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Grover Beach is closer to passing medical pot biz regulations

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Grover Beach is within spitting distance of becoming one of the most marijuana friendly cities in SLO County.

On May 1, members of the City Council conducted their first reading of two ordinances to permit and regulate commercial medical marijuana businesses in certain areas of the city. The permitting regulations and zoning ordinances would open the door for a number of medical marijuana-based operations, including cultivation, processing, testing, and retail sales.

The two proposed ordinances took months to develop, according to Grover Beach City Manager Matthew Bronson.

“This has been a team effort across the board. … We’ve been focused on making sure we do this the right way for the community,” Bronson said.

The two ordinances include a zoning and land-use policy that creates a commercial medical marijuana business zone in the industrial areas in the city’s south and west. The second ordinance establishes regulations and requirements for licensing, permitting, and operating those businesses, including requiring background checks, security plans, and other information from those potential businesses.

Councilmember Debbie Peterson recused herself from the ordinance’s first reading, stating that she lived within 500 feet of the proposed marijuana business zone. She later spoke during the meeting’s public comment period as a private citizen.

The business zone combined with a voter-approved marijuana tax could net the city an economic benefit. Speaking at the meeting, Bronson estimated that the city would take in about $150,000 next fiscal year, a number that could grow to between $1 million to $2 million annually over time as more businesses come online. Resident Craig Smith said he supported the ordinances and hoped the revenue would be used for projects that benefit the community, such as maintenance for the city’s roads and parks.

“Take these fees and apply them in all the places that you supported and that your residents believe in,” Smith told the council members.

Others were not as sold on the plan. Lynette Navarro voiced concerns that marijuana businesses looking to operate in the city were pushing out businesses already operating in the city’s industrial zones, offering millions to buy the properties.

“Please think of these things,” said Navarro, who works at a business located inside the proposed medical marijuana business zone. “There is no blight there, but you’re kicking us out.”

Grover Beach resident Terry Mikolatcher said he lived near one of the zones where medical marijuana businesses would be allowed to operate and said he and his neighbors were concerned about the impacts to traffic and potential problems with odor.

“That’s the concern with me, but if you want to give me a million dollars for my house, I’ll shut up and leave right now,” Mikolatcher joked.

The council will meet again May 15 to hold a second reading and possibly adopt the ordinances.

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