Council plans to streamline dispensary process
Sonoma City Council will review new guidelines in the city’s Commercial Cannabis Ordinance on Wednesday to streamline the process for a second storefront cannabis business to operate within city limits.
In April, the council approved an amendment to the ordinance to pave the way for a second walk-in cannabis store. At the same time, council members asked city staff to find ways to shorten the assessment and selection process when granting a conditional certificate to operate a cannabis business. The process of awarding the first certificate, approved for the Sparc dispensary at the end of 2020, took almost a year.
Sparc’s proposal to operate its dispensary in the former El Gallo Pinto restaurant at 19315 Sonoma Highway is submitted to the Sonoma Planning Commission for a final review on Thursday, September 9 – more than 21 months since the city began to Submit nominations for dispensary applicants in January of 2020.
Mayor Madolyn Agrimonti expressed frustration this week that the process has taken so long.
“Currently, I’m waiting for the first dispensary to open,” Agrimonti said when asked about the prospect of a second business.
The viability of a second dispensary in Sonoma, she said, will be a matter of “supply and demand.”
“Anyone considering opening a second clinic should take this into account. Like any business would, ”said Agrimonti.
The city’s initial commercial cannabis ordinance was approved in June 2019 and authorized a storefront business and a delivery business. But during the ensuing application period, no proposals were received for a conditional certificate for a delivery-only dispensary, leading some board members to seek approval from a second storefront company. in place.
As with the previous selection process, the new guidelines will assess applicants based on criteria such as the qualifications and experience of the property, the community benefits they can offer, and business, safety, security and business plans. solid work.
But City staff believe significant time savings will be achieved by requiring applicants to identify a proposed site for their dispensary with their initial submission – a change from the current process which provides for a separate period to identify a dispensary. site after a first round of application review.
Additionally, if fewer than five submissions are received, applicants will be treated as finalists for the certificate and proceed immediately to the second phase of the selection process, which includes presentations to city council and tours of proposed dispensary sites.
Each applicant will be required to submit a non-refundable fee of $ 12,000, to pay for the time of City staff and the consultant during the application process.
While Sparc is the only certified walk-in dispensary within Sonoma city limits, three other dispensary requests are currently under consideration in the Sonoma Valley – at 15499 Arnold Drive (corner of Madrone Road), 15 Fremont Drive (at Highway 121/116) and 8910 Highway 12 (near Palooza Brewpub in Kenwood).
Water scarcity and conservation plan
The council is also considering at the September 8 meeting an ordinance that better aligns the current water conservation and scarcity plan of the city’s municipal code with the urban water management plan and the city plan. emergency in case of water shortage adopted by the council last June.
The main difference between drought mitigation policies is that the current plan, adopted in 2015, outlines four stages of water scarcity during which increased water reductions would be required, while the new policies include six stages. reduction.
The six steps run the gamut of voluntary step 1 reduction measures, such as asking residents not to wash sidewalks and driveways with hoses, and that restaurants only serve water, to the Stage 6 ban on all new landscaping using water and requiring residents to reduce water by 55% from previous use.
City staff recommend that Council make the changes to standardize plans and help the City meet its water conservation goals.
Fines for violation of water bodies are $ 100 for the first violation, $ 200 for the second, and $ 300 for a third or subsequent violation within one year.
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