WILTON — Residents voted at Monday night’s annual town meeting to amend the town’s zoning ordinance to allow marijuana-related businesses and establishments within the town.
Marijuana retail sales, indoor cultivation, manufacturing, processing and testing is now allowed in farm and forest, commercial and industrial zones, with Planning Board approval.
Marijuana outdoor cultivation will be allowed in farm and forest, commercial, industrial, and resource protection zones, also with Planning Board approval.
Marijuana social clubs will not be allowed in any zone, and approved establishments cannot be within 500 feet of schools, religious institutions, licensed day cares or libraries.
Those against the amendment said they moved to Wilton for the family-friendly feel, and do not want Wilton to become “the capital of marijuana.” They also said they do not like the odor, and do not want to smell it as they drive by pot-related establishments.
Newly elected selectman Tom Saviello told residents, “Don’t forget, it’s already legal,” adding that the amendment to the ordinance was put in place so the Planning Board can control where marijuana-related activities take place.
“There is no quick fix for the odor,” one resident said.
When asked if she is concerned about marijuana being a “gateway drug” and the potential rise for crime, Police Chief Heidi Wilcox said local officers have not seen any crime rate increases to cause concern.
“There are not more problems now that it’s legal,” she said.
Voters also approved several proposed budgets for the town’s various departments, and the general government administration budget was set at $284,200.
The Wilton Fire Department’s budget was set at $157, 300, a $21,540 increase from last year due to wage and benefit increases associated with the new minimum wage law, and includes $8,000 for the contract with the East Dixfield Fire Department for its assistance.
The budget of the Police Department was set at $508,066, an increase of $15,692, also due largely to increased wages and benefits.
Voters also approved raising $10,000 toward the town’s next revaluation, which is expected in 2026. Town Manager Rhonda Irish said she estimates the cost to be about $100,000, and the town was advised at its last revaluation to save a little each year.
Residents approved raising $20,000 for the town’s contingent and legal fees account, twice the amount it was last year. When residents asked why the amount needed to be doubled, Irish said the legal fees account was the only one to go over budget last year, due largely to property maintenance ordinances.
The account is also used for advertising planning board notices, employment opportunities and town gatherings, she said.
Town Manager Rhonda Irish, left, Chairwoman Tiffany Maiuri, Selectpersons Ruth Cushman, Keith Swett, David Leavitt, and Jeff Adams at the Wilton annual town meeting Monday night. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)