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Group Closes In On Dispensarie Location

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
SIERRA VISTA – After being unable to find a suitable location that meets Sierra Vista's recently passed zoning restrictions, a group of area businessmen are seeking to establish a medical marijuana dispensary adjacent to a retirement community nestled just outside of the city limits off of Highway 90.

William Skalak, a member of the recently formed RRB Enterprises, LLC, informed area property owners and residents that he and his partners have reached an agreement to lease a warehouse located at 108 S. Vista Park Road, he said in a letter dated March 18. Though the county asked that they send these letters out to everyone within 1,000 feet of the site's property lines, they have also volunteered to host a public meeting for area residents in April to further address any concerns.

On Friday morning, more than a dozen residents of the Vista View Resort, an adult retirement community immediately adjacent to the warehouse, discussed their questions and fears over their weekly coffee. Their conversation touched on concerns related to potential crime, reduced property values and increased traffic.

Robert Webster, who lives just outside the community's main gate, feels something like this should not be so close to a residential area and should instead be located in a shopping center or medical center. The warehouse is located within the Vista View property but is more than 300 feet away from the nearest home, which meets Cochise County zoning guidelines.

Webster understands that some people may benefit from marijuana as a medicine and Arizona has stricter guidelines than other states that have adopted similar laws, but does not want to see it being cultivated or sold so close to a senior complex, he said. "This is scary, that's the whole thing."

Skalak and his partners want to make people feel as comfortable as possible and share as much information as they can, he said in a phone interview. They are taking many steps to minimize the impact of the facility and he does not believe it will significantly affect the residents in any way.

They will have reasonably short hours of operation, will keep the building well lit and will operate under a strict set of security guidelines with the close cooperation of the Cochise County Sheriff's Department, Skalak said in the letter. The name of the facility will not include the word marijuana and there will be no depiction of the plant on any signs or advertisements.

Proposition 203 also has stringent guidelines for who qualifies for medical marijuana and Skalak does not anticipate a high volume of traffic coming in and out of the facility, he said. Reports of increased crime in other states generally occur in areas where there are many dispensaries clustered in a small area and that will not be possible in Arizona as only about 125 will be distributed across the state.

Vista View resident Katherine Taylor is still very worried about the potential for abuse of the system, she said, in an e-mail. "There will be doctors who will write prescriptions for a fee and they will be pretty hard to detect so we will probably have a crime element here."

Taylor also fears that it will be difficult to sell homes in the retirement community because few seniors will be interested in buying a house with a dispensary so close by, she said.

Skalak and his partners chose this locations after being unable to find a vacant property in Sierra Vista that meets the city's zoning restrictions and has a landlord willing to lease it out for this purpose, he said. Vacancy rates in commercial areas are low in Sierra Vista and the 500-foot buffer zone from residential property lines significantly limits the number of eligible spaces.

Most of the commercial zones in the unincorporated areas near Sierra Vista also fail to meet the county's 300 foot buffer zone because there are homes located just behind most commercial strips, Skalak said.

Even in its current location, the dispensary would prevent qualified patients in Sierra Vista from growing their own medicine, which was why the primary reason the city council chose not to zone out dispensaries entirely.

The dispensary is not a done deal either. The group still needs to secure a special use permit from the county and one of about 125 certificates from the state, Skalak said. The final version of the Arizona Department of Health Services rules governing medical marijuana are expected to be released Monday and will provide the final answers to how these certificates will be allocated.

According to Arizona Corporation Commission records, the members of RRB Enterprises, LLC are: Robert Maloney, Rady Zebian, William Skalak and Elizabeth Skalak. Maloney is a realtor in Sierra Vista, William Skalak is a businessman from Phoenix who has business projects in Cochise County and often travels to Sierra Vista, and Zebian is the owner of Sophie's Smoke Shop, LLC, in Sierra Vista.

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: svherald.com
Author: Adam Curtis
Copyright: 2011 The Sierra Vista Herald
Contact: The Sierra Vista Herald
Website: Group closes in on dispensary location
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