As the Citizen has reported, two medical-marijuana facilities have been proposed for our town. A hearing on one of them -- across the street from a school bus stop at 222 Post Road -- was held Sept. 24.
As Fairfield residents, we believe this is a political issue with far-reaching ramifications that would be disastrous for our entire community -- not a simple zoning matter affecting a few neighborhood blocks.
Currently, the state expects to license three to five dispensaries that would be "geographically dispersed" across the state. Yet somehow, our zoning officials have been presented with plans that would make Fairfield home to two such facilities located within 580 feet of each other.
Like it or not, and regardless of one's personal opinion about medical marijuana, Fairfield would become a "destination" for those seeking drugs. And that would change the character and quality of life of our town.
Do we want that?
Ansonia and Shelton have adopted moratoriums on the dispensaries, and towns don't have to accept them. Fairfield should do the same or have a referendum so all of our voters can decide if they want their town to be known as Connecticut's "pot stop" instead of a family-friendly community boasting great schools, breathtaking open spaces and other invaluable resources.
To approve dispensaries before Fairfield has a chance to consider their impact on the entire community --and possibly pass sane, responsible zoning guidelines for these new business models -- would be putting the cart before the horse.
The proposed dispensaries have surprised many in town. Many residents living across the street from the proposed sites did not get notifications. There was no signage posted (as you'd see with pending liquor applications).
Fairfield citizens deserve to know more. Our elected officials need to do due diligence before votes are cast. The stakes are too high: In Denver, for example, one-third of all crimes are committed within 1,000 feet of dispensaries. Out West, four California attorneys general took enforcement actions to close many dispensaries because they had -- in one of their words -- "ruined entire communities."
We believe that these facilities -- which would be stuffed with cash and marijuana and prohibited by federal law -- would increase crime and the need for more taxpayer-funded policing in Fairfield. They'd reduce property values and increase traffic on Post Road, a thoroughfare that's already highly congested.
One of the dispensaries would be located in a run-down shopping center with scant parking that's directly across the street from a school bus stop.
And both would sit cheek-to-jowl to residential neighborhoods that are home to dozens of children and senior citizens. We have serious concerns about our loved ones' safety and health.
Despite the rhetoric, these are not typical businesses, nor should Fairfield treat them as such. Like methadone clinics, which serve those trying to beat the "illness" of addiction, and liquor stores (also legal), they have highly negative impacts on communities. We should not rush to embrace these facilities without serious consideration. We should not become Connecticut's marijuana marketplace.
Citizens for a Healthy Fairfield