BENNINGTON — A group seeking to open the first medical marijuana dispensary in the Bennington area has abandoned plans for use of an Elm Street site and will explore other locations in town.
William Cats-Baril, CEO of PhytoScience Institute, LLC, said Wednesday that, after speaking with town zoning officials about a vacant building at 345 Elm St., the group will seek an alternative site.
“They politely gave us a heads up that [permitting] would be difficult because of neighborhood opposition,” said Cats-Baril. He had previously stated that PhytoScience wants to work with the community and would not try to force the facility into a site that residents opposed.
Opposition to the proposal was voiced by some residents online and in letters to the editor following an article about the Elm Street building, which formerly housed medical practice tenants.
“We are all about working with the community,” Cats-Baril said. “We are looking at other locations and hope to find one that is acceptable.”
He said he intends to visit three possible sites this week.
The group has received conditional approval for what will be the state’s fifth medical marijuana license and hopes to open a facility in Bennington within a few months. Depending on the amount of renovation work required and the time frame for hiring and training two employees from the Bennington area, Cats-Baril said he plans to open a dispensary by the end of December.
The Elm Street site was an ideal location, he said, adding that PhytoScience is seeking “a medical practice-looking space.”
Asked previously about zoning requirements for the Elm Street site, town planning director Dan Monks said commercial uses generally are not allowed on upper Elm Street. The parcel is in a village residential zone that does not normally allow retail uses.
Monks said 345 Elm St. could continue to be used as a