Company looks to open retail cannabis facility at 195 Albany Turnpike in Canton
Editor's Note: On Wednesday, Jan. 18, the applicant modified a few details of its submission, reducing proposed hours, adding additional landscaping and offering to use to the former bank drive-through as an exit for customers (right turn only).
Additionally, the Planning and Zoning Commission began its public hearing on the proposal, eventually continuing it to its next meeting on Feb. 21.
Look for an update - in the form of a new story - soon.
By John Fitts
CANTON - A limited liability corporation with provisional state licenses as an adult use retailer has filed an application for a proposed cannabis retail facility at 195 Albany Turnpike.
The application, from Slap Ash, LLC seeks a special permit and site plan modification for the property - which is a Canton Design Village District - from the Planning and Zoning Commission, which is slated to begin a public hearing on the matter on the evening of Jan. 18.
“The Applicant is committed to developing a best-in-class Cannabis Retailer in Canton in a secure and compliant setting,” attorney Daniel S. Glissman of MacDermid, Reynolds & Glissman, P.C. writes in the application. “The Facility will utilize secure reinforced construction materials and technology, cameras, and remote monitoring, and on-site security personnel. The Facility will include various security and safety equipment and technology, including, but not limited to a secure sally port, or access control vestibules, customer entrance protocols, and redundant security alarms and controls. In addition, all personnel will be trained extensively, and the operation will fully comply with Connecticut regulations and guidelines.”
Glastonbury-based Slap Ash, LLC, is majority owned by Ashley Vaughn. Her business partner is Amanda Ostrowitz.
Vaughn, according to the state business filing is based in Tampa, Florida while Ostrowitz, a Glastonbury native, is listed with a Chicago address.
Ostrowitz is an expert in the industry with extensive experience in cannabis law and regulation, according to the application, and is “excited to bring her significant industry experience to her home state.”
Vaughn is a relate estate professional who brings extensive management level management to the company, according to the application.
The site at 195 Albany is a 3,042 square-foot building with 21 parking spaces. It was formerly a Bank of America location and has frontage on both Route 44 and Canton Valley Circle.
The company’s two provisional licenses, issued by the state Department of Consumer Protection, are good through Oct. 31, 2023, according to documentation in the application.
The application includes a traffic analysis, and approval from the Canton Water Pollution Control Authority and the Farmington Valley Health District, as well as plans for an operational plan, site plan, architectural plan, signage details and landscaping plan.
Canton’s zoning regulations do provide for cannabis facilities – subject to certain conditions in the designated business locations of Design Village Districts under Canton’s form-based code.
In addition to site plan requirements, the town’s special permit criteria, however, does give the commission some discretion in considering such applications. In November, the commission denied an application - from a different party - for a cannabis retail facility at 325 Albany Turnpike, finding it was not complete and did not demonstrate compliance with special permit criteria such suitable location for use, appropriate improvements and suitable transportation conditions. The current application does include much more documentation that the one for 325 Albany Turnpike.
The application for 195 Albany contends that it meets all the criteria in the regulations and provides a point-by-point summary from that perspective.
There has been mixed reaction to the proposal. Of two social media posts on which The Valley Press shared the initial posting of this story, one had nearly 50 likes and love emojis as of Jan. 13, and the other close to 100. Comments were mixed with many supporting the proposal, others objecting and a few tangents about other businesses and issues.
The official meeting packet, released to the town web site Friday, Jan. 13, contained a handful of emails sent in opposition to the proposal - most from Canton Valley Circle residents.
One from David and Janet Lloyd raises several issues to the neighborhood proximity.
"The proximity of the retail 'drug' outlet and the clientele it is intended to serve, seems entirely inappropriate," one point of the letter reads. It also contends there will be a negative effect on property values and calls the state legislature's legalization of recreational marijuana "ill advised" but says in light of the decision, Canton Village plaza would be a better location. The letter asks the commission to deny the application.
Another email, sent in the form of a presentation titled "Preserve and Protect the Canton Valley Circle Neighborhood," was sent in by Jordan Toussaint.
It includes statistics on the neighborhood, the proximity to residential homes, and brings up traffic issues, contending the site has known parking issues and that the business would be the only one in state accessed via a residential road.
The submission also quotes the Economic Development Agency's mission and contends, "How is a dispensary in a residential neighborhood fostering or supporting a better place to live, work, raise a family, conduct business and enjoy a high quality of life?"
In summarizing, Toussaint says the commission will hear from many residents on the evening of the public hearing and raises concerns for neighborhood children.
"This impacts the planning and zoning of our town, as well as the police department, our community, our safety and security as a family neighborhood. Put all of this at risk, so that a company based outside of not only Canton, but outside of Connecticut can bring and sell marijuana to your community?" the submission states.
The application offers a different view on some of those issues. With traffic, for example, a study by Fuss & O'Neill estimates 58 trips (29 entering and 29 exiting) during the afternoon peak hour and 88 (44 entering, 44 exiting), during the Saturday peak hour. The 58 trips is fewer than the former bank use generated, while the Saturday peak is just 8 more, according to the study. The study also states that access and egress for customers would be from Canton Valley Circle, while the existing drive through egress to Route 44 would be for deliveries only.
In another document, the application contends that video surveillance, alarm systems, electronic controls, and numerous other measures will make for a very secure facility.
The application also touts the 3 percent municipal tax that Canton would receive from sales at the facility. It estimates that would mean $150,000 to $300,000 to the town annually. Funding uses for that money would be limited but streetscape work, education programs, civic engagement services, and mental health and addiction services are some of the approved uses.
As of Jan. 17, the commission had received a letter in support of the proposal. Resident and businessman Steven Stang said dispensaries he has visited in Massachusetts "were the most sophisticated, highly regulated, clean and professional businesses in the area."
He said the businesses would likely face challenges due to what he called "excessive regulations" and "unfounded fears."
" These are not the old 'head shops' of yesterday," he wrote. "School kids don't wander into them. They are modern and intensely regulated businesses and should be treated as such.Please allow this very reasonable application. The community will be benefitted."
See the meeting packet at https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/lgfmj982ssca88sizjfkc/h?dl=0&rlkey=csyfcn5zicrwt81oart6vlekz