Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

February 27, 2024

Bloomfield denies cannabis dispensary proposed by social equity applicant

Contributed The site of a proposed cannabis dispensary at 12 Seneca Road, Bloomfield.

A proposed adult-use cannabis dispensary in Bloomfield, where Fine Fettle is already building a 45,600-square-foot production and cultivation facility, was rejected by the Planning and Zoning Commission during a recent meeting,

On Thursday, commissioners unanimously denied a motion to approve the dispensary at 12 Seneca Road, the location of a former beauty parlor. The property is sandwiched between Seneca Road and railroad tracks, near the intersection with Route 178.

The proposed dispensary would have been operated by Mark Christie, a Bloomfield native and founder of FRC Holdings, who holds a social equity license. He had an agreement to operate the dispensary with Killingworth-based Oxford Group LLC, which would acquire the property from the current owner, MCLAD LLC. 

Oxford Group applied for a special permit on behalf of FRC.

Commissioners said they thought the dispensary would be more appropriate for the outskirts of town, saying they envisioned a different type of development in the town center.

Commissioners were particularly concerned about the proximity of a preschool daycare at the Bloomfield Congregational Church.

James Winokur, a consultant for the development team, said the location was the prime reason they wanted to develop the dispensary. He dismissed concerns about kids buying cannabis products, noting that customers’ IDs are checked twice and there are stringent security requirements.

“I don’t anticipate preschoolers trying to get into our stores,” Winokur said. “I know from experience that underage people do not get into our stores. It just doesn't happen.”

Winokur is the CEO of Berkshire Roots, a cannabis cultivator, manufacturer and dispensary operator based in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He is also the founder of High Power Consulting.

Wonokur said the dispensary would be a good neighbor and an attractive business, comparing it to a dispensary he runs in East Boston.

“It just becomes part of the vibe of the city,” he said.

Some commissioners said they thought the dispensary would detract from the vibrant city center.

“The cannabis store adds value to those who want that product,” Winokur said.

He added: “I think we’d fit in very well and I think bias against cannabis is really affecting how you’re considering this store.”

After voting, the commission’s Acting Chairman Byron Lester said he hoped the applicant would work with zoning staff to find a different location.

“There might be another location more suitable for your business,” he said.

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF