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Council Approves Commercial Cannabis Dispensary In City
Full House
The Riverbank City Council listened to several comments regarding the proposed ordinance approving a Development Agreement for a commercial cannabis dispensary with a full house during a City Council meeting on Dec. 12. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

The Riverbank City Council approved the development agreement for a commercial cannabis dispensary between the City of Riverbank and Pacafi Cooperative, Inc., a California Corporation doing business as Flavors.

Planning and Building Manager Donna M. Kenney submitted a report to the council at its Dec. 12 session, with the council ultimately voting unanimously, 5-0, in favor of allowing the dispensary to locate in the city. A conditional use permit for Flavors was heard by the Planning Commission at an earlier public hearing; the permit was approved at the Nov. 21 meeting by a vote of 3 to 1.

The term is for three years and the dispensary will have medicinal and, as of Jan. 1, recreational marijuana. The dispensary will be at 2213 Patterson Road and according to the city, the project site is not within 600 feet of any school, day care facility, or youth center.

Councilmember Leanne Jones-Cruz noted that the issue was a particularly emotional one for her as a teacher but said that, after careful consideration, research and visiting an established dispensary, she voted in favor of the dispensary.

Also explained by Kenney was that the conditional use permit has some conditions of approval that the planning commission recommended including the use of Live scans for not only the business owners and partners but the employees of the site as well. It regulates the hours of construction that tenant improvements can be done, it also regulates exterior lighting conditions, there is a hold harmless agreement in it and also there will be no loitering signs and security guards to monitor the traffic outside and to monitor the foot traffic into the building.

Kenney also reported that the business will pay toward infrastructure, services and neighborhood burdens in the area, based on a flat rate or a percentage of gross receipts of the business, whichever is greater.

According to Kenney, during the planning commission meeting city attorneys added a condition which states the project and project applicant shall strictly comply with all administrative guidelines that exist now in regards to cannabis dispensaries and any that may be created in the future or changed from time to time. When public comments were given there were several people against the location of the proposed dispensary and after each opposition the people in the audience applauded. The biggest issue that the people shared was that they should look for another location for the dispensary, pointing to bus stops close to the vicinity, high traffic volume already on Patterson Road and many businesses that young people frequent in the area, including restaurants, shops and movies.

A teacher from the Riverbank Martial Arts Academy, Reggie Kumar, expressed concern for the children that attend the academy as well as that they should be considered as a youth center which should not be within 600 feet. The academy would be 100 feet from the dispensary.

The attorney for the city explained that they are not considered sensitive uses.

Mayor O’Brien explained that they have been researching this for many months and they have visited several dispensaries throughout California. Prop 64 was passed last November so the council has expressed being able to monitor the situation.

“As you heard we have held numerous workshops, study groups, asking for input and we have received very little but we did do the studying,” said O’Brien. “We visited commercial grows in LA, we visited dispensaries throughout California. I was in Washington State this last weekend and saw some of the areas that they have dispensaries.”

The mayor also expressed that this dispensary will be highly regulated, watched very closely and can be shut down at any time. The property owners will have strict rules to follow and plan to have security and not allow loitering.

The meeting was heated and several community members came out in support of not having a dispensary on Patterson Road. The council chambers were packed with people and many were also in the room the next door, watching the proceedings on TV monitors.