On November 1, 2023

Killington considers cannabis retail zoning

By Curt Peterson

The Killington Planning Commission voted to present “Cannabis Establishments Zoning” regulations for the Select Board’s consideration and possible adoption at Town Meeting in March 2024. 

Prior to a vote the planning commission will also hold a public hearing on Jan. 3 and the Select Board will hold a public hearing in early February. The Town Meeting ballot vote in March is only on retail. All other types of cannabis establishments are allowed subject to obtaining a license from the Vermont Cannabis Control Commission.

Vermont towns have been mulling over cannabis acceptance since October 2020 when the state legislature approved licensing cannabis businesses, and retailers began selling cannabis and cannabis products in some towns in October 2022.

With approval of its non-“tax-and-regulate” scheme, Vermont became the 11th state to approve growing, selling and using marijuana. The federal government still rules the drug illegal, complicating things for state legislators, growers, sellers and users.

The Killington zoning bylaw proposal is intended “to provide for the placement of cannabis establishments in suitable locations,” with consideration for protection of “residential neighborhoods, civic and educational institutions, and public gathering places from any adverse secondary impacts.”

According to Town Planner Lisa Davis Lewis, “adverse secondary impacts” might include “odor or security issues,” but the commission tried to contemplate a myriad of other undesirable situations.

Cannabis businesses are categorized as Indoor Cultivation, Manufacturing of Cannabis Products, Cannabis Retail Sales, Cannabis Testing Laboratories, and Cannabis Wholesalers.

The state reclassified outdoor cannabis cultivation as “agriculture,” making regulation outside the town’s zoning jurisdiction, Davis told the Mountain Times.

Among existing zones, manufacturing, testing laboratories and wholesalers may apply for permits within the Killington Business and “Valley” zones. Retail stores, which would be limited to 3,000 s/f of public access area, can operate only in the Business zone.

The proposal also prohibits comingling of different categories within one establishment, e.g., a grower may not also include a retail shop.

Physical separation requirements are based on property lines rather than building footprints. Properties containing retailers cannot be closer than 500 feet from “a licensed childcare facility or any public or private school certified by the Vermont Agency of Education,” as measured by the “nearest point of the property line in question to the nearest point of the property line where the cannabis retailer will be located.”

Retailers must also be at least 250 feet from town parks and recreation area properties.

Multiple retailers within one building must be at least 500 feet from each other within the structure.

There are visual regulations in the proposal as well—including prominent “MUST BE 21 TO ENTER” notices, and prohibition of publicly visible displays of products or “gear.”

Permit applicants have to provide clear plans for controlling odor, even though usage in public is disallowed, and applications have to include detailed security protection.

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