Woodlake residents voice concerns over regulatory permit passage for Green Bean Pharm cannabis dispensary
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
WOODLAKE – While the City and City Council might be ready to move forward with commercial cannabis in the Woodlake city limits some residents have their concerns.
Last week the City Council voted 3-1 in favor of issuing Green Bean Pharm, and a second cannabis dispensary titled only CCW LLC, regulatory permits. They still have to go through site plan review phases in addition to gathering a host of licenses, but Green Bean Pharm’s proposed location at 515 W. Naranjo Boulevard has created some consternation.
Woodlake city staff said that putting cannabis dispensaries in downtown or other well lit places where people often travel reduces the likelihood of crime, and it is a centralized location for law enforcement to respond to quickly. City administrator Ramon Lara said that it has worked well for other cities in states where there is commercial cannabis. But Green Bean Pharm is not in downtown; instead it is closer to the outskirts of town.
Pastor of Woodlake’s Presbyterian Church John Dennis raised his concerns over Green Bean Pharm’s location as it would be across the street from the church. Dennis said that one of the most notable replies to a City issued survey over whether commercial cannabis should be allowed, prior to last month’s election, was it should be located far away from children.
Dennis said that he is not particularly opposed to cannabis use and sales but he informed the Council his church runs an afterschool program of about 70-80 kids. The area is not well lit and there is little foot traffic that reaches that portion of town. As well, it is not a centralized location near law enforcement which contradicts the staff’s intentions regarding placement. Dennis also noted that the church holds alcoholics and narcotics anonymous meetings and having a cannabis dispensary across the street could be troublesome.
“If we’re trying to keep this as far away from our kids as possible…[and] trying to keep it well lit and safe then I don’t understand why we are putting it here,” Dennis said respectfully.
Woodlake Presbyterian Church member and Woodlake resident Cathy Sullinger spoke during public comment and dropped off a letter from her adult daughter who lives in the city but could not attend the meeting. Sullinger said that she would rather not see Green Bean Pharm be located across the street from the church. She said it sets a bad example to see customers visiting a marijuana dispensary.
Green Bean Pharm co-owner Michael Dunaway said that the dispensary wants to become a part of the community where they can, and that designs are underway to increase visibility with lights while putting together a more attractive façade.
CCW LLC on the other hand is looking to locate directly in downtown at 132 N. Valencia. They currently own an established medical cannabis dispensary in Santa Cruz County, and estimate it will take five to six employees to run their dispensary seven days a week in Woodlake. Community services director Jason Waters said that they have already began their site plan review process and will start their conditional use permit (CUP) process through the planning commission soon. Green Bean Pharm has already submitted a site plan review for their location.
The Woodlake staff report shows that the next steps for the dispensaries could take several months. Aside from gathering a CUP they still have to show a Certificate of Occupancy, a Woodlake Business License and get a license from the State of California. While commercial cannabis can be sold starting as early as Jan. 1, 2018 the likely start date for dispensaries and cultivation plants in Woodlake will not be for several months after that.