WESTPORT — An abandoned house on an unkempt lot on State Road might not seem like much. But that old house could be the site of one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries in town.
Coastal Healing applied for a special permit and site plan to turn an unsightly white home on a lot abutting Holiday Lanes into a utility room for a medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation center.
Coastal Healing’s lawyer Brian Corey Jr. and site engineer Ken Mota met with the Planning Board recently to apply for a new facility to be located at 248 State Road on a 106,626-square-foot lot.
That hearing will continue on Jan. 14, as Corey and Coastal Hearing continue to address traffic, safety and other details.
Board members and zoning officials noted the popularity of other marijuana stores in the local area and statewide, with lines of people standing outside of dispensaries. They questioned how that might be especially dangerous on busy State Road.
Planning Board members also appeared to question why Coastal Healing would maintain the abandoned three-bedroom home as a utility room, considering the home’s condition and how its appearance does not match the steel, 10,000-square-foot structure of the facility being proposed.
Corey mentioned that Coastal Healing would be open to demolishing the old home and building a separate utility room.
Although the building footprint itself would be 10,000 square feet, there would be a 3,400-square-foot second floor for office and other employee uses. Corey noted how zoning officials took issue with how the square footage would technically surpass the bylaw’s 10,000-square-foot limit, with the office “mezzanine area included.”
However, Corey said it still falls within the bylaw’s intent. The building will not be a “giant superstore” and only 10 percent of the total building square footage would be used for retail.
Corey added that visits there will be for appointment only. He mentioned that there would be heavy video surveillance and two security guards on duty at all times. All video footage, inside and outside the building, would be available on a cloud network and be accessible for 90 days, Corey said.
He mentioned that the appearance of the building would match the commercial facade of the steel recycling store across the street, as well as other commercial ventures along Route 6. Corey also indicated that the facility would store and process water for plant use and would largely be powered by solar energy.
Corey mentioned that there would be no public bathroom, given the small retail size and no strain on the septic system, which was revamped in 2016.
“This will be done as a green and environmentally friendly project,” Corey said.
Planning Board member John Bullard appeared to agree with the facility’s use and how it would draw more visitors to the Route 6 business district.
“Medical marijuana serves an absolute legitimate need for people who are in pain,” Bullard said. “You have fundamentally addressed the issue of traffic by stating ‘appointment only’ and (you have) done so by locating it on State Road. … We are trying to develop traffic on State Road, for Pete’s sake. That’s where we want to generate traffic.”
Selectmen issued Coastal Healing a letter of non-opposition and the Conservation Commission has approved plans.