Restaurant owner looks to open cannabis shop in Chepachet; Council still open to input on the issue

Too Close?? Under current town restrictions for cannabis sales a potential cannabis store location behind the current Pinewood Pub on the left is too close to the Pre-K Learning Place school on the right. They are located on Terry Lane in Pinewood Park. NRI NOW photo by Dick Martin

GLOCESTER – Cannabis sales in Glocester, previously approved by voters, does not appear to be on the horizon in the near future.

At the Council’s recent meeting, discussion of a draft regulating cannabis sales in town was opened for discussion, but no vote has been taken yet. The council made it clear that they were open to further discussion at the next meeting before making any final decisions on determining where a store might be located in town and how it would be regulated.

Currently, the draft regulation states that a cannabis store cannot be located within 500 feet of any pre-K to 12 school property, a limit which property owner William Kapanakis suggested should be changed to the state regulation, which states K-12 schools only. He recently purchased property near the Pinewood Pub, which he also owns. It is less than 500 feet from the pre-K school The Learning Place, located in the same small business park in which the pub is located on Terry Lane in Chepachet. He explained that the potential cannabis store would be towards the rear of the building, away from the school.

“I think we should leave it as the state zones it,” said Kapanakis.

Council Vice President Stephen Arnold admitted that the state guidelines weren’t as restrictive as the town’s current draft reads, but that they were open to input from residents concerning the draft.

Resident Shelley Lefevbre reminded the council that the voters did vote to accept cannabis sales in town.

“That doesn’t mean there will be one,” councilman Walter Steere replied. “We are not here to cater to one business. You can’t exclude or include just anyone.”

Town Clerk Jean Fecteau explained later that though the voters had approved sales, there were not many places in town in which to locate one. The most likely spots would be in a business zone or an industrial zone, she said.

“It very much depends on the proximity to parks and schools, and what the final definition works out to be,” she added.

Also up for discussion is whether or not the town’s conservation areas, which are used for hiking and recreation come under the title of, “parks.” Stores cannot be located near park property under state guidelines.

Under current town guidelines, there were few locations available, including possibly one in West Glocester where the former State Line Diner used to be on Route 44, and possibly another near the Smithfield line.

“There are very few places to choose from,” said Fecteau.

The council, she added, didn’t want to develop rules or create a situation where it was impossible to have a license in town.

“The council is trying very hard to find a place because voters said, ‘Yes,'” she said. “They want to find one which is least offensive to the majority of people.”

The town also has to deal with state district restrictions, which currently limit five licenses to be shared between the towns of Burrillville, North Smithfield, Cumberland, Smithfield and the city of Woonsocket. That includes one license listed as a, “co-op,” license or a license to be shared in a, “cooperative” manner by several owners. Other license regulations are yet to be released by the state, she added.

The council voted to postpone a final draft of the guidelines for more voter input at the next council meeting scheduled for Thursday, June 1.

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