Westminster’s mayor and Common Council heard public testimony Monday night, June 25, about an ordinance that would amend local zoning to approve of a medical cannabis dispensary in the Fairground Village shopping center.
“I am not opposed to medical cannabis; I am opposed to the location,” said Deborah Pujals, a Westminster resident, voicing concerns about safety. “It should be in a better place.”
Pujals was the only resident to testify in opposition to the medical dispensary.
“It’s not a service for the community. It’s a service for people that are sick and needing it,” Pujals said, explaining that she’d like to see the dispensary set closer to medical facilities.
But the whole purpose of the Medical Cannabis Overlay — the policy outlined in the ordinance — is to comply with state law, said Stephanie Brophy, an attorney representing the medical cannabis company approved for a dispensary, MyBond LLC.
Brophy argued that having a dispensary with strict state regulations in a strip mall is akin to a pharmacy among the stores.
The only difference, Brophy said, is that dispensary patients are not allowed to consume their prescription in their car or the parking lot.
Brophy presented the council with a detailed layout of the proposed facility and how it was going to comply with state law. The proposed structure has a public area, a service area that the public can enter if accompanied by a licensed dispensary agent and a secure room in which the product — medical cannabis — would be stored during nonbusiness hours.
“We have to have two completely separate security systems,” for the secure room and the areas accessible to the public, said Ron Bond, co-founder of MyBond. “Everything has to be in the secure room until an hour before we open up.”
Brophy and Bond offered details of the structure, including reinforced cement for the secure room and digital access cards.
MyBond has endured an onerous state approval process to get to this point, Brophy argued, asking the council to adopt the ordinance.
But the council couldn’t vote on the ordinance yet. The council is mandated to have a certain-length period of public comment following the introduction of the proposed ordinance. Action on the ordinance will have to wait until the mayor and council’s next meeting on Monday, July 9.
If the city approves, Bond said he anticipates roughly 60 days of building in order to meet requirements and turn the existing structure into a functional dispensary.
Council approves bid to haul sewer sludge
The lone bid to collect and dispose of sewer sludge from Westminster’s wastewater treatment plan came in significantly higher than city officials were anticipating.
Jeffrey Glass, Westminster director of public works, informed the mayor and Common Council on June 25 that only one company had submitted a bid for the work.
The company, Community Refuse Service LLC, returned a bid that would cost Westminster approximately $561,000 per year. The mayor and council included only $400,000 for this service in the fiscal year 2019 budget.
“Landfill costs continue to go up,” Glass said. “They won’t stop increasing.”
This likely will require the council to amend the recently passed budget, and it could also impact rates.
“That’s bad,” said Councilman Tony Chiavacci. “I’m very disappointed the bid was so high and that there was only one bidder.”
Chiavacci asked Glass to look into options that would reduce the cost of sludge removal.
“I think we should look into hiring a guy, buying a truck and driving the stuff up to a landfill,” he said.
The contract with Community Refuse Service calls for service as-needed, Glass said. Which means the city will accrue the extra expense only when Glass’ department requests the waste-removal company’s service.