Diamond Shine must wait to see Whately ZBA about pot shop

  • Marijuana AP Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 3/8/2019 6:37:13 PM

WHATELY — The Connecticut woman who wants to open a marijuana dispensary on State Road was told Thursday she must secure a community host agreement from the Selectboard before she tries to get a variance and special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The plug was pulled on a ZBA public hearing when members informed Dr. Karen Gaston, of Diamond Shine LLC in East Granby, Conn., that town bylaws first require a signed host agreement. Gaston and friend Ed Lally, a semi-retired civil engineer, were cordial with ZBA members and agreed to come back after meeting with the Selectboard. Lally said he and Gaston would withdraw both applications and resubmit after getting a host agreement.

Roughly 20 people attended the public hearing, which lasted less than 20 minutes and ended after Gaston and Lally returned from the hallway, where they went to discuss their options after being told about the problem the bylaws presented.

Gaston is interested in opening a retail spot at 13 State Road. Her vision is for the store to sell cannabis grown at an indoor cultivation site she wants to build on Greenfield Road in Deerfield. She is waiting to meet with the Deerfield Conservation Commission because the land, a wooded area on Routes 5 and 10 that has no address and abuts Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital, is very wet.

Gaston and Lally, who were joined by architect Tom Carlone, will have to wait until May to again meet with the zoning board. Lally explained Diamond Shine is in agreement with the Whately Selectboard, but nothing has been put into writing. He said he and Gaston initially thought Thursday’s public hearing would be held next month. They meet with the Selectboard on March 26, but the legal notice will not be finalized until April.

“It’s sort like the perfect storm in reverse,” Lally said in the hallway of Whately Town Offices after the public hearing. “Things didn’t happen the way we anticipated.”

Gaston said she has a doctorate in educational psychology and runs Elegant Clinical Corporation, a not-for-profit organization in East Windsor, Conn., serving people with developmental and mental health disabilities. She said she is interested in marijuana’s healing components.

“I really want to run something that has quality, integrity, that actually helps people,” she said.

Lally said recreational marijuana is not legal in Connecticut.

Gaston explained she has ties to Franklin County because she was born in Greenfield, her father is buried in Deerfield and her mother was born in Whately.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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