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Groton — A Connecticut-based CBD company is proposing to renovate the former Poquonnock Bridge fire station at 13 Fort Hill Road into a gathering space with drinks and food, live music, and a CBD retail operation.

New England Hemp Farm would turn the building into its headquarters, dubbed “The Barn,” for people to socialize and also learn more about CBD, said Brian Edmonds, the company’s CEO and co-founder.

“We hope to create a very welcoming space that is very inclusive of the community,” Edmonds said.

The company plans to renovate the 1944 building, including installing a metal roof, a side entranceway, enhanced landscaping, and a roof deck off the back of the building that overlooks the Poquonnock River. Edmonds said the building has “a lot of character,” and the company wants to maintain the open floor plan with high ceilings.

The proposal calls for a bar featuring local craft beer, a small retail operation for CBD products, and plans down the road to add a small-scale, “artisanal” extraction area in which people can observe the process of turning hemp into CBD oil, he said.

The site plan application is scheduled to go before the Groton Planning & Zoning Commission at its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Town Hall Annex – Community Room 2. The application does not require a public hearing.

New England Hemp Farm

Last year Edmonds and his business partner, Keith Bunovsky, started the business that sells a line of CBD products: tinctures, topicals, and edibles, as well as smokables, Edmonds said.

The company, which grows hemp in Canterbury, has a retail store in Westport and this spring plans to open two additional stores — one in Fairfield and one in Port Washington, N.Y. — if not more, Edmonds said. The company has licenses to both grow hemp and manufacture CBD products.

“CBD stands for cannabidiol, a compound naturally found in hemp and cannabis plants,” the company’s website states. CBD is “non-intoxicating” and “does not produce a high.”

The company makes CBD products from hemp, which contains less than .3% THC, the ingredient in cannabis that produces a high, according to the website.

New England Hemp Farm promotes the therapeutic benefits of CBD and is looking at the 7,550-square-foot Groton facility as not only a spot for people to buy CBD products, but a place for people to have drinks and food, socialize and learn about CBD, he explained.

He likened it to a version of a brewery for the CBD world. He said it will be a great place to promote CBD in a variety of different ways, including with music, entertainment, lectures and information, and to answer people’s questions.

The proposed hours of operation haven’t been set yet, but Edmonds stressed it will not be a “nightclub” and will not be open very late. He said it will be a great place for afternoon and early evening live music and social gatherings.

The specifics of the plan will be set at a later point, but the live music would likely be slated  for Thursday through Sunday, he said.

Poquonnock Bridge location

Edmonds and Bunovsky, who both have ties to the local area, coincidentally found the Groton spot right around the time that Edmonds moved from Fairfield to Mystic last summer, Edmonds said.

Edmonds said the site will be a great addition in helping Groton enhance business and entertainment in Poquonnock Bridge. The Poquonnock Bridge area was recently rezoned as a Mixed-Use Village Center, intended to “accommodate demand for mixed-use development … on a smaller, “village” scale with neighborhood-serving retail and services, and places to accommodate artisan production,” according to a description on the town’s zoning rewrite website.

“We’re in a really prominent location right along the Poquonnock River with a public accessway along the riverfront right here and we think we’re in a great spot to help revitalize this particular part of Groton,” Edmonds said.

The Planning & Zoning Commission has until March 21 to make a decision, said Groton Assistant Planning Director Deb Jones. 

The project also will need building permits, a state Department of Transportation permit, and approvals from the local health district for the food operation, said Jones. It will also need a state liquor license, Edmonds said.

Edmonds said that as long as the local Planning and Zoning approval goes smoothly, he anticipates opening by mid-summer. 

“We are very interested in working with the town and locals to really make this a great place that people really can enjoy,” Edmonds said.

More information about New England Hemp Farm is available at www.newenglandhempfarm.com.

k.drelich@theday.com

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