Wilton mulling moratorium on retail cannabis stores

WILTON — On the heels of recreational marijuana being legalized at the state level earlier this summer, the Wilton Planning and Zoning Commission, along with Town Planner Michael Wrinn, discussed bringing the topic of a retail cannabis moratorium to a public hearing.

“Retail will be coming,” Wrinn said of the recreational dispensaries that are beginning to apply for zoning applications across the state following the bill’s passage. “The town has the ability to prohibit or have a moratorium until we get our hands around what this actually means.”

A moratorium would place a temporary hold on all decisions made in relation to cannabis-focused retail businesses for an agreed-upon time period.

The P&Z Commission can pass this through the lens of zoning, essentially prohibiting any prospective cannabis business the opportunity of gaining approval for application through the commission for the duration of the moratorium. The commission’s reason for this was to be able to flesh out all possible effects of having cannabis-focused businesses in town.

This was initially proposed by attorney Nicholas Bamonte to the Board of Selectmen earlier this month as a “workaround” to prevent the immediate opening of such businesses.

Wrinn said the commission should act so that the town can “try to figure out what are we going to see with traffic, what are we going to see with security.”

He added, “We’ve got a number of towns and cities around us” that are moving toward or have already passed moratoriums, “whether it is a year or six months,” such as Ridgefield, New Canaan and Newtown.

Nearby cities like Stamford and Norwalk are not considering moratoriums for cannabis-related businesses at the moment.

Commissioner Christopher Pagliaro said a large sales tax rate would be incurred upon the buyer of cannabis-related products at one of these new retail businesses. Wrinn said the tax rate would be roughly 3 percent of sales that would go back to the town.

“I'm making the recommendation that we go to a public hearing with a moratorium on it until we can get a better sense,” Wrinn said.

The commission will revisit the topic in the public hearing early next month.