Lindsay makes move on canna-biz, retail to follow
Lindsay City Council votes on first reading of new cannabis zoning and permitting while pushing for new discussion on retail
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
LINDSAY – Lindsay City Council has been consistent when it comes to commercial cannabis in town: they would not allow it if they could not tax it, and they are not for dispensaries.
Since their meeting last week, Feb. 12, with two new councilmembers in place, and a supposed epiphany by another, the Council is not only ready to open their doors to manufacturing and production, they are willing to at least talk through dispensaries as well.
After Lindsay voters okayed commercial cannabis taxes last November, the City Council decided they were going to move forward with the less noticeable side of the industry. Zigler has said since the cannabis discussion began in 2016 the Council was more comfortable with packaging, manufacturing, growing and testing. But after amending, repealing and adding ordinances to make way for zones, permitting procedures and regulations, the Council might add retail in the near future.
During the public hearing on the first reading of ordinance no. 570 that amends chapter 18 of the Lindsay Municipal Code to allow for commercial cannabis in permitted zones with a conditional use permit, advocates for dispensaries in town urged the Council to take a more comprehensive look.
Lindsay resident Steve Penn spoke up during the public hearing to say that he believes the City is moving in the right direction, but competition over retail cannabis is likely to draw away from potential revenue.
Greg Sheldon from Porterville suggested the council return the item to staff and have them bring a comprehensive ordinance change that includes retail.
“There’s competition breathing down your neck right…competition is going to beat you to the punch,” Sheldon said.
Councilmember Laura Cortes, who visited Woodlake’s dispensary Valley Pure recently, said she had been doing some research of her own and indicated she is ready to take more of a stand on commercial cannabis retail. Fellow council members Yolanda Flores and Rosaena Sanchez said they were in favor of adding retail to the municipal code.
While the council is willing to at least entertain the idea of retail cannabis in the City, they were not able to table the two items during the Feb. 12 meeting without starting the entire ordinance process all over again, adding significant delays to businesses ready to move into town. Dustan Bagliere, who represents Eric Hanson, property owner of the former Lindsay Olive Plant, said a delay in passing the ordinance would ultimately delay development.
Bagliere said Hanson plans on leasing portions of the 90,000-square foot property out to businesses with manufacturing and production licenses. He added that the process has been altogether slow since the voters passed the tax in November, and the City has not taken any steps forward since then.
Moving forward without retail, leads to a second public hearing and then implementation 30 days after. Councilman Brian Watson said he did not want to table the vote to wait till staff returns with an ordinance that includes retail. Zigler added that including retail as an option would take time since they would have to scout possible locations, zoning options and create specific ordinance language the pertains just to dispensaries.
“Being able to get this moving forward is a big deal to a lot of us. To be able to get that going in an expeditious fashion is a big deal,” Watson said.
Flores went on to motion for Ordinance No. 570 with Cortes’ second leading to a 4-1 vote with mayor Pam Kimball casting the lone dissenting vote. Flores also motioned the Ordinance No. 571 repealing chapter 8.06 of the Lindsay Municipal Code and adding chapter 5.28 allowing cannabis businesses and establishing permitting procedures and regulations. Watson second the motion leading to a 4-1 vote with Kimball again casting the dissenting vote.