Tag Archives: Westport medical marijuana dispensaries

[OPINION] Rudeness And Bullying At Public Meetings Must End

Last night, the Planning & Zoning Commission met to hear applications for 2 medical marijuana dispensaries in Westport.

They heard a lot more, from the very loud crowd. Things got so bad — despite chair Paul Lebowitz and member Chip Stephens’ pleas for civility — that a 15-minute recess was called.

When the meeting resumed, a Westport police officer stood next to the podium.

A Westport resident who was there — and was appalled at the audience’s rudeness — writes:

This is not about marijuana — medical or recreational. This is not about right or wrong federal, state or local laws. And this is not about one generation or political party.

This is about the total loss of civility, of crowd bullying and very bad behavior in the public process.

Kings Highway Elementary School holds a “kindness week.” Adults in town have not modeled that behavior recently.

In a town known historically for fairness, open-mindedness and respect for each other, the question now looms large: “What has happened to the residents of Westport?”

The past 3 weeks have seen 3 instances of police being called to public hearings at Town Hall because of perceived or actual threats, or physical altercations, during P & Z and Historic District Commission meetings.

These are official hearings, held by volunteer elected residents. They dedicate endless hours because they care about our town.

There is no compensation, beyond an occasional “thank you.” Meetings start at 7 p.m., and often last until 11 or midnight.

They are run by Robert’s Rules of Order, and basic rules of civil meetings. These rules allow elected officials to discuss ideas with each other, presenters and experts — and most importantly, to receive public input and opinion.

The rules are simple. A chair runs the meeting, recognizes speakers, and manages the time of many different submissions.

Audience members are invited to speak when recognized. They are supposed to address the commission on the submission at hand at a podium, after giving their name and address.

When not speaking, all participants — elected officials and and the public — are expected to be silent. They should respect others’ views and words. There should be no clapping, booing, berating or shaming others.

This is called civility. Civility at meetings allows a fair hearing, where all can express their views without fear of retribution or bullying.

At last night’s P & Z meeting there was utter chaos. Speakers incited the public to disorder and shouting. There was public shaming of certain speakers, causing others to leave before their turn to speak.

When the meeting became too disruptive, a break was taken. At that point there was shouting, with threats uttered at the elected officials. A few people actually grabbed a commissioner.

The police were called. A very professional officer reopened the meeting with a straight and strong message: This is a public meeting. You are all expected to be civil, and allow everyone to be heard. Please obey the rules of the meeting. If there are any further physical altercations or threats, the offender would leave with me.

The rudeness continued, albeit toned down. Comments included: “His opinion is wrong; mine is right.” “How dare you?” “How much are you getting paid?” “Why did you call the police? Are you afraid?”

This is not how a well-educated, well-heeled, politically astute and respected town is supposed to act. This is not the way to participate in the open and free political process.

I hope that civility and respect return to Westport soon. Our police have more important matters to attend to. Meanwhile, the list of those willing to serve in elected office continues to shrink.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries: Yes, There’s A P&Z Meeting Tonight, Too

A posting earlier today noted that on Thursday, April 19 the Planning & Zoning Commission will hear 2 more proposals for medical marijuana dispensaries in Westport.

As alert “06880” reader Phil Perri commented, there is also a P&Z meeting tonight (Thursday, April 5, 7 p.m., Town Hall).

They’ll hear applications for dispensaries at the current sites of the Westport Dance Academy (Post Road West, near the Norwalk border) and the DXL men’s store (Post Road East, former Blockbuster).

A proposal for the old Bertucci’s property (Post Road East, near Sherwood Island Connector) has been pushed back to April 19.

Perri explained that on the 19th, the P&Z will also discuss a proposed change to the medical marijuana text amendment to change the definition of a “public building.” That’s because Bertucci’s is within 1,000 feet of one.

What “public building” is that? It’s a small shed on the state-owned salt storage property next to Walgreen’s.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries: 2 More Sites Proposed

When the Planning & Zoning Commission holds a public hearing on April 19 (7 p.m., Town Hall), they’ll consider a special permit and site plan for a medical marijuana dispensary on the 2nd floor of the old Bertucci’s restaurant.

That site has been the subject of controversy for weeks.

But they’ll also consider special permits and site plans for 2 new locations.

One is for 1460 Post Road East: the shopping center where Pier 1 Imports used to be. (Much older Westporters know it as the old bowling alley.)

After Pier One moved out, a pop-up Halloween shop opened briefly at 1460 Post Road East.

The other is for 1803 Post Road East. That’s the smaller shopping plaza across from Stop & Shop, with Stanton Miles and Jennifer Furniture.

1803 Post Road East

Click here for the official notice.

[UPDATE] 3rd Site Proposed For Medical Marijuana Dispensary

The Planning & Zoning Commission meets April 5 to continue its public hearing on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Three proposals are on the agenda.

One involves the former Bertucci’s restaurant on the Post Road, near the Sherwood Island Connector.

The 2nd is for the old Blockbuster store.

The 3rd proposal is for 345 Post Road West.

That’s the Academy of Dance building, near the Norwalk border.

The Academy of Dance, on Post Road West.

The dance studio sent out this message:

It has been brought to our attention that our landlords have filed an “Application for Special Permit” to attempt to make this location eligible for a CT Medical Marijuana Dispensary. We were not aware of these intentions and we are working with our landlords to better understand their recent actions.

It is important for our dance community to know that we are bound by a current lease that entitles us to remain at 345 Post Road West as we have done successfully for many years.

The Academy says their “classes, performances, privacy and typical routines” will not be disrupted or infringed upon. They’re not closing, and they don’t intend to move.

Sounds as if the applicant — “FFD Westport LLC” — has found a location smaller than the 2 big locations so many residents complained about at the last meeting.

But it’s clear the current tenants are not going to just waltz away.

(The P&Z meeting on Thursday, April 5 begins at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.)

P&Z Denies Daybreak, Postpones Pot

Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission took action last night on one contentious issue, and heard from a herd of residents on another.

By a vote of 4-2, the board denied a proposal by Able Construction to build 11 homes at the former Daybreak Nurseries site on Main Street, near Weston Road. The units would have been restricted to people age 55 and older.

Neighborhood opposition, traffic concerns and possible soil contamination were among the major objections raised, before the vote.

Able Construction hoped to build 11 units of housing.off Main Street and Weston Road.

Residents also voiced strong opposition to proposals for 2 medical marijuana dispensaries on the Post Road. One is for the now-shuttered Bertucci’s restaurant, near the Sherwood Island Connector; the other is at the former Blockbuster video rental store near North Maple Avenue.

Among the opponents: 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

No vote was taken. The P&Z will hear more from the public on April 5.

The former Bertucci’s — site of one of the proposed medical marijuana dispensaries.