New Fresno Unified School will force pottery store to close


Just weeks after securing one of the city’s first cannabis retail licenses, Fresno Farms is already being told it will have to relocate, or risk closure, due to its proximity to a planned Fresno Unified school. .

The dispensary was told last week that its location – a vacant lot on Ventura Avenue in southeast Fresno – would be within 800 feet of the Francine and Murray Farber education campus when it opens in 2023.

The Fresno Farms license for 3849 E. Ventura Ave. is not currently under threat, and as it stands, the location meets municipal code requirements as the school is not functioning, said Sontaya Rose, the city’s communications director.

That will change once the campus opens, scheduled for 2023.

Because Fresno’s cannabis retail licenses renew each year, the company would no longer comply with city code, Rose says.

The company can request to transfer the license to a new location, but only after the request has received final cannabis conditional use and license approvals. It is currently under preliminary approval.

But getting final approval is a quick and expensive process that would require building a storefront that ultimately would be of little or no use, says Jessica Reuven, co-owner of Fresno’s Farm and chief compliance officer of parent company Yuma. Way, which operates dispensaries in Colorado and Michigan.

“It is just becoming a very difficult business in an already difficult industry,” said Reuven.

“In fact, we don’t know what our plan will be. “

The company checked the location for any issues and even got a letter from the city in December saying it was properly zoned. As the school has not yet been built, it did not appear on any of the “buffer zone” maps provided by the city.

Fresno Farms knew there was an educational complex under construction, but felt it would be a vocational school that wouldn’t fall under the buffer zone rule, Reuven says.

“The last thing our business wants to do is something that makes people uncomfortable,” she says.

“We are particularly motivated to make sure that cannabis does not fall into the hands of minors. “

This is one of the reasons the company got a license to start, she says.

Five licenses were appealed, but not this one

Neither the mayor nor district five council member Luis Chavez have appealed the license, presumably because it is not yet in compliance with the buffer zone ordinance. A message to the city councilor was not returned.

Five other cannabis licenses have been appealed, including one that may be too close to another Fresno Unified School. These appeals will be voted on at a special meeting on October 27.

Reuven says Fresno Farms “understands and supports the challenge of the situation”. The company would have looked for another location if it had been aware of the problem and would now move ‘in the blink of an eye’ if the opportunity arose, although it believes citizens may have to advocate on their behalf. for that to happen before being forced to choose whether to continue moving forward with the current location.

“The city has the best intentions here,” she said.

“We hope everyone can find a simpler solution.

Aside from Fresno Farms, the city’s requirement means that any future school site, even built in 10 or 15 years, would replace existing cannabis licenses and force a business to relocate or close, Rueven says.

That is problematic. She wonders if, theoretically, a competitor could fund a school for this specific purpose.

Typically, this type of sensitive use license has grandfathered rights, just like liquor licenses, to protect against future developments, she says.

“Having this risk on your mind at all times is actually a very heavy burden on a business. “

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Joshua Tehee covers the latest news for The Fresno Bee, writing on a wide range of topics from law enforcement, politics and weather to arts and entertainment in the Central Valley.

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