North Central News

Medical marijuana dispensary moves on

Teri Carnicelli
The three partners with Urban Greenhouse Dispensary have decided not to appeal the decision of a city of Phoenix zoning administrator to deny their request for a use permit and variances to locate their new business at a strip mall at 24 W. Camelback Road.

The zoning hearing was held on March 28 and more than a half-dozen people turned out to protest the proposed business, including former State Rep. Barry Wong, who lives just behind the strip center in the Medlock Place neighborhood.

Wong said the neighborhood had been undergoing a sort of “renaissance” in the last several years, with new restaurants, people re-investing in their homes, and other attractive new businesses that enhance a neighborhood. “This type of business will be a detriment to the neighborhood,” he emphasized.

Others spoke in concern regarding the high student population in the area, with Central High, Brophy College Prep and Xavier College Prep a short distance down Central Avenue. Many students ride the Metro light rail—with a station almost directly across from the proposed dispensary site—and other walk north along Central to their neighborhoods. There was a fear that students would interact with medical marijuana users.

In the end, Zoning Administrator Teresa Hillner did not believe the use permit and variance requests met the requirements set forth by city zoning ordinance. According to Hillner’s official findings, “While studies provided by the applicant states that increased crime is not associated with the medical marijuana dispensary, this land use requires some spacing from residential zoning districts to ensure any potential negative impacts are not close to residential zoning.”

Regarding the proposed dispensary’s close proximity to schools, Hillner stated that, “The proposed facility will have negative impacts on the surrounding school location. There are several schools within the area that meet the spacing requirement but students from which travel in the neighborhood.”

Adam Baugh with Withey Morris PLC, the attorney for Urban Greenhouse Dispensary and the property owner, said that the partners had easily looked at more than a dozen sites previous to the 24 W. Camelback location, but finding one that meets all the state requirements, city zoning requirements, with available property and a landlord willing to lease to this type of business had proven more than challenging.

However, Hillner pointed out that, “There are other locations within this designated Community Health Analysis Areas (CHAAs) for dispensary allocations. The applicant searched for this site knowing the residential zoning was nearby. Central Avenue and Camelback Road is the intersection with four historic residential neighborhoods.

“There is no special circumstance which was not created by the applicant.”

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