Stamford’s Planning Board Approves Two Marijuana Dispensaries and a Zoning Change

Stamford, a city in Connecticut, is set to see some changes in its landscape after the Planning Board voted to approve two applications for marijuana dispensaries and a zoning change for a downtown property.

The Planning Board cleared the way for two more marijuana dispensaries that would bring the city to its limit of five. The dispensaries, which would serve both medical and recreational customers, are proposed by Sweetspot and Nautilus Botanicals.

Sweetspot plans to open a dispensary at 1000 High Ridge Road, near the Bull’s Head intersection. The company already operates a hybrid dispensary in New Haven and has a pending lawsuit against the Zoning Board, which denied its previous application for a Stamford location in July 2023.

Nautilus Botanicals plans to open a dispensary at 1110 East Main Street, near the Interstate 95 Exit 9. The company is backed by Merida Capital, a New York City private equity firm that invests in the cannabis industry. Nautilus Botanicals also faces a possible legal challenge from the Zoning Board, which rejected its application in November 2023.

The Planning Board approved both applications with conditions, such as limiting the hours of operation, providing adequate parking and security, and complying with state and local regulations.

Zoning Change Allows for Redevelopment of Downtown Corner

The Planning Board also approved a zoning change that would allow for the redevelopment of a busy corner in the heart of downtown. The property, located at Broad and Summer streets, is currently occupied by a Burlington clothing store. The store occupies a 120,000-square-foot freestanding building that was once a Caldor discount department store, a downtown landmark.

The zoning change, requested by land-use consultant Rick Redniss, would permit building heights of 85 feet in the entire property, instead of the current split zone that allows 150 feet in one section and 75 feet in the other. Redniss said the change would comply with the updated building code and facilitate the layout of the site.

Redniss did not reveal any details about what is planned for the corner, but Planning Board Chair Theresa Dell asked him about a possible apartment building. Dell wanted to know whether the required Below Market Rate units would be on site, or whether the developer would pay into the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund instead. Redniss said that was the developer’s option, subject to the board’s approval, but he did not know who the developer would be.

Planning Board documents list the owners of the property as GBR Broad & Summer LLC, and a Florida company called Rubford LLC. State business records show that GBR Broad & Summer is an affiliate of Gibraltar Management Co., a corporate, commercial, residential and real estate development and management firm based in Tarrytown, N.Y.

The Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend that the Zoning Board allow the zoning change.

Planning Board Sets the Table for Zoning Board Decisions

The Planning Board considers applications and votes to recommend whether the Zoning Board should approve them. The Zoning Board has the final say on granting special permits and zoning changes. The Planning Board’s decisions this week signal likely revisions to the city’s landscape, as well as potential conflicts with the Zoning Board and the applicants.

Stamford now has three hybrid dispensaries – Sweetspot, Fine Fettle at 12 Research Drive, and Curaleaf at 814 East Main Street. Marijuana dispensaries, and smoke shops, are prohibited from operating within 3,000 feet of any other such store, or within 1,000 feet of any school.

The city also tightened its rules on new smoke shops and marijuana outlets in July 2023, requiring them to obtain special permits, subject to public hearings and approvals from the Planning Board and Zoning Board.

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