The controversy continues between Riverbank residents and the Riverbank City Council regarding the approval of a commercial cannabis dispensary called Flavors. A group of citizens filed a petition on Thursday to overturn the approval of the Flavors dispensary that would be located at 2213 Patterson Road.
For the past several months the Riverbank City Council has been dealing with the issue of the legalization of marijuana in the State of California and how they will proceed within the City.
What once was a slim showing of citizens now had the city council chambers packed with concerned residents expressing their opposition for the proposed Flavors dispensary. After several discussions, meetings, research, and consideration of public comments the council unanimously approved the second reading for the cannabis dispensary on Jan. 9.
“The biggest complaint is the location of Flavors,” stated Riverbank resident Arthur Hidalgo. “There is a kid’s karate school directly behind where the shop will be located, nearby elementary school, and school bus stops ranging from elementary to high school. McDonald’s is also across the street which is a family gathering place. Recreational marijuana shops should not be allowed where minors are present.”
There are several businesses on Patterson Road including Riverbank Martial Arts Academy within close proximity to Flavors. Citizens have expressed great concern with the location of this dispensary and they have asked city council to consider relocating the dispensary and others not wanting the dispensary within the city at all.
“Most residents are thankful that we are informing them of the ordinance that was passed by the city,” added Hidalgo. “For many this is the first time hearing about the marijuana shop.”
After the approval of Flavors residents went out and gathered over 1,000 signatures within the community and delivered the petition to city officials on Thursday, Feb. 15. During public comments at the recent city council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 13, resident John Vedder took the podium during public comment and expressed that they had gathered signatures throughout the community to overturn the approval of Flavors. He stated that Turlock voted not to have a dispensary in their city and that Riverbank should do the same.
Pacafi Cooperative, Inc. submitted an application to the City for consideration of a development agreement to operate a cannabis dispensary business that stated it would improve and develop in strict accordance with state and local law.
“In a community so small, every business matters, above all the quality of life and future of our children and future of our town comes first,” explained Hidalgo. “It is against the federal law to have such establishments for recreational purposes only. We want to foster a positive environment where we teach our children to stand up for what they believe is right and that includes saying no to recreational drugs. Other comparable cities nearby have said no to allowing these businesses into their cities for the greater good of the community, Riverbank should be able to do the same.”
Mayor Richard O’Brien had stated at previous meetings that the legalization of marijuana is already here and that every house can grow up to six plants. He explained that with the dispensary they would be able to regulate and monitor the traffic and the product. The council has also expressed to the public that the business will be under strict rules and can be shut down at any time.
“We wanted to alert the residents of Riverbank of what the Riverbank City Council has decided on their own prerogative,” said Hidalgo. “We are requesting that the residents be allowed to determine if these shops are in the best interest of this community by placing the ordinance on the ballot at the next election.”
Since the approval of Flavors there has been a second dispensary that was approved that will be located on Third Street in downtown Riverbank. The City Council has also approved a six month moratorium on any new applications for a cannabis dispensary. They would like to see how the two recently approved dispensaries will do.
“We hope that the Riverbank City leaders will hear the voices of those who have elected them and represent us as a community and not their own personal agenda,” expressed Hidalgo. “We also want the city leaders to know that we are a working class community and are not always able to attend the meetings so sharing of information is crucial. We are seeking more open and transparent communication from the city leaders, which can be accomplished by sending notices regarding topics of importance along with the water bill. The city currently sends communication regarding events such as the Christmas parade; this request is very minimal and should not create a hardship for the city.”