There have been two cannabis dispensaries approved unanimously by the Riverbank City Council, with the second reading approving the Development Agreement between the City of Riverbank and Family and Friends Association, Inc.
The ‘Family and Friends’ group will be doing business as Riverbank Cannabis Collective and approval of the development agreement came during last week’s city council meeting.
The Riverbank Cannabis Collective will be moving into what was once the Riverbank Hotel at 6609 Third St., in downtown Riverbank. They will be renovating the first floor which is 3,100 square feet in size. The project site is more than 600 feet from a school, day care facility or youth center. The business was described as having a more holistic approach than Flavors, and has been approved for recreational and medicinal marijuana.
After the second reading has been approved it will take 30 days for the ordinance to take effect. City Manager Sean Scully noted that the building is old and will need to be renovated and updated and that can take some time as well.
“So they’ve got some work to do before they will be open,” said Scully. “They will have to be done with the renovations before it is approved to be open. Just like any other business you have to pass all the codes and inspections.”
There was one change to the Development Agreement that was stated during the first reading, that the dispensary will close during the annual Cheese and Wine Expo and during the Christmas Festival activities. The new language has been added to the development agreement and was approved by the Riverbank City Council.
The development agreement has many components and it is very specific on the expectations of the City on how the business will run and the fees they have to pay. The wording in the agreement is the Public Benefit fee, which is a different fee than any other business has to pay.
The Public Benefit fees the dispensary will have to pay are as follows: $5,000 or six percent of gross receipts from operations, whichever is greater, each month for the first six months following the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit; $7,5000 or six percent of gross receipts from operations, whichever is higher, for months seven (7) through twelve (12) following the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit; and for each month thereafter they pay $9,000 or six percent of gross receipts from operations, whichever is higher, through the end of the term of the development agreement.
“The thing that I think is important and I cannot be more clear about is that if these businesses are not living up to the provisions of their development agreement which are incredibly strict,” stated Scully. “There is widespread authority for the city to straight shut them down so the council feels like the risk with that agreement has been hedged quite a bit because they have a lot of control. In fact I can’t think of a business that we have more control over than this one.”
The controversial issue has weighed heavy on both the city council and citizens of Riverbank, officials admitted. During public comment residents stepped up to the podium to again reiterate their opposition of both the dispensaries and asked council to reconsider their position. Citizens voiced concern regarding the integrity of the business, concerns on the regulations, as well as questioning the plans and if the building codes were being followed.
“We understand that people disagree with this decision and we respect those opinions,” added Scully. “At this time the council has made the best decision that they think is possible given the circumstances that we have to live with.”
There was also a six-month moratorium for any new cannabis dispensary that was approved at the meeting which will not allow any other new business to be processed or issued permits to operate a cannabis dispensary within the city of Riverbank. The moratorium would give the city council members time to see how the two dispensaries are conducting business. The council may also revisit the moratorium and it could be extended for a full year.