Templeton Pot Dispensary Still Up In The Air

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex Moderator
For the Second Time, County Planners Reach No Decision on the Ramada Drive Site in Templeton; Action on a Permit Is Postponed Until January

County planning commissioners on Monday failed again to reach a decision on a proposed medical marijuana dispensary in Templeton.

In July, the Planning Commission deadlocked 2-2 in a disagreement over exactly how far the dispensary--proposed for a Ramada Drive industrial park--would be from a park across Highway 101.

Before Monday's commission meeting, applicant Austen Connella asked that the decision on a permit for the proposed 1,450-square-foot cannabis co-op be delayed because all five commissioners couldn't be present.

Sarah Christie, who has voted in favor of the permit, was absent Monday. In the July deadlock, Commissioner Anne Wyatt was absent.

Since federal agents raided Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers in Morro Bay on March 29, the closest medical marijuana dispensaries to San Luis Obispo County are in Buellton and Santa Barbara.

Paso Robles police Chief Lisa Solomon spoke against the proposal, arguing that "there is no valid use -- no good can come of this in our community or yours."

Solomon described problems at dispensaries in other areas and expressed concern that police could be diverted to deal with problems at a local outlet.

"I don't want to create another problem for my community," Solomon said.

California voters made medical use of marijuana legal in 1996 for patients with a doctor's recommendation when they approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act.

That conflicts with federal law, which considers the drug illegal in any circumstance. Law enforcement agencies frequently oppose use of medical marijuana.

A county ordinance allows dispensaries in unincorporated inland areas such as Templeton but prohibits them from operating in a downtown business district or within 1,000 feet of any school, library, playground, park or youth recreation area.

Coastal zones of the county are excluded from the ordinance pending approval from the state Coastal Commission, which has the final authority on land-use laws in those areas.

A motion to postpone a decision at first deadlocked, with Commissioners Bob Roos and Eugene Mehlschau voting instead to deny the permit.

"This is not a general retail use -- it's got issues and we should disapprove it," said Roos, adding that the dispensary would go against the character of the neighborhood.

"I recognize our decision won't be final because it can be appealed and that it doesn't matter what we say," Roos said. "Why prolong it?"

However, when neither Commissioners Penny Rappa nor Anne Wyatt would budge, Roos voted to consider the permit again Jan. 10.

In earlier public hearings, some community leaders, including Templeton schools Superintendent Deborah Bowers, have argued that Connella's plan is a poor fit for the conservative town and that it would undermine the school district's anti-drug efforts.

At Monday's meeting, Rob Rosales of the Templeton Chamber of Commerce said that a new church is now in the same area as the proposed dispensary and that a day care center would likely be provided there.

Commissioners asked county planners to include information on the possible day care center in their next report.

Source: Tribune, The (San Luis Obispo, CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Tribune
Contact: letters@thetribunenews.com
Website: San Luis Obispo County's website | Homepage
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