Fresno is deploying 21 pottery store licenses. Here’s why some are already causing smoke.


The slow march to open retail marijuana stores in California’s fifth largest city is coming to an end, but not without a bit of smoke.

Fresno city officials on Wednesday released a list of 21 cannabis retailers that have received preliminary approval to open a store.

The problem? Six claimants, nearly a third of final retailers, have locations in a sensitive use area – a violation of the city’s own ordinance, following a list review and one Fresno city map.

California law requires a retail dispensary to be at least 600 feet from another dispensary, school, youth center, or daycare.

Cities, including Fresno, have taken the initiative to increase the so-called “buffer zone” between the sensitive locations and uses described above.

Fresno’s sensitive use pad, which is 800 feet, once had to sit at 1,000 feet.

The buffer zone issue arose nearly a month ago when a Sun review of competing retailers found that a candidate was proposing to open a store about 700 feet from the poorest elementary school. per capita of Clovis Unified, Pinedale.

The company, 7315 Blackstone OPCO, is expected to operate a store under the popular Cookies brand.

In a statement, officials at Clovis Unified expressed dismay at the opening of a retail store so close to the elementary school.

“It is extremely disappointing to learn that a cannabis retail business may soon be located on a property within 800 feet of Pinedale Elementary School,” said Clovis Unified spokesperson Kelly Avants. , in a statement to the Sun.

“Such a facility is likely to become an attractive nuisance for our primary school students and older students who use the school as a transportation hub. We hoped that planners would be more responsive to our concerns, and we are disappointed to learn that they have moved forward with approval.

Besides, one of the three pre-approved social equity candidates was in a buffer zone, according to the map issued by the City.

Candidates in the buffer zones were to be disqualified from further consideration after their application.

However, a number of applicants not only moved from the initial review to interviews with City officials, but ultimately obtained preliminary approval.

Which stores are in the buffer danger zone?

City officials and a number of candidates said the planning department had issued zoning investigation letters that kept their potential properties from being in a buffer zone.

“The information currently available does not show these sites within 800 feet of a school,” city spokeswoman Sontaya Rose told The Sun in early August, with a warning.

“This will be further explored during the [Conditional Use Permit] to treat.”

The clear conflict raises a key question: who is wrong? Urban planners or a digital map of city officials designed to guide potential entrepreneurs in choosing a site?

An important recourse, it seems, may lie with members of Fresno City Council who reserve a veto-type right of appeal on all licenses issued in their districts prior to the issuance of a conditional use permit. .

Appeals must be filed by council members “within 15 days of the decision to issue a commercial cannabis license”. Appeal hearings, held at a city council meeting, must take place within 20 days of receipt of an appeal filing by City Manager Thomas Esqueda.

Based on Wednesday’s announcement, city council members have until September 23 to file an appeal against their future licensees.

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