Planning commission stacked with marijuana facility applications

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July’s Planning Commission Meeting was held Tuesday the 28th at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall. Commissioners Hunter Edwards, Lou Martin, Jr., Kayla Parnell, and Julie Longoria were in attendance. 

Notable in the report from Urban Development Director Nikki Howard was that the final plat for the Reserves at Cross Timbers housing development was approved on June 6th (although a pipe defect must be solved before final inspections for the infrastructure are approved) and that the preliminary plat for the proposed duplex development at West 81st Street and Frankoma was denied and that they have not received an appeal.  

A lot split was approved for Good Q, LLC (i.e., QuikTrip) at 1030 East Taft Avenue. The convenience store will be combining lots to the south and southwest of their current location to build a new store. The current location is to remain open during construction. 

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Four specific use permit cases were heard by the Commission, all related to marijuana. 

The first applicant was Nick Ramirez with Green Country Research, Inc. at 4550 West 57th Street South. Howard reported that this business was approved for a medical marijuana growth facility in August of 2019 and that she also recommended approval for this application to add marijuana processing. This was unanimously approved by the commission. 

The next application was for Jessica Squires and Elliot Hollaway of 6515 Canyon Road (adjacent to Timber Ridge Estates) to convert a detached accessory building next to their house to a marijuana growth facility. Although this property currently has an agricultural designation, the future land use map in the comprehensive plan has it marked residential and it is sandwiched between two Timber Ridge subdivisions. Howard recommended denial due to these two factors. Several neighbors vehemently spoke in opposition of the idea at the meeting. Squires’s mother and the two applicants were eloquent and emotional in their arguments in defense of their plan, explaining that they are experienced in this industry and that they have measures in mind for security and containment. However, the application was denied in a split vote, with Edwards voting against the denial and the other three commissioners voting for it. Longoria cited safety and security issues as her main concern, and expressed admiration for the young couple’s initiative and urged them not to be discouraged.   

The Legal Plug 918 applied for a permit to allow a marijuana processing facility at their existing business, a former restaurant, at 505 West Johnson Avenue. Howard reported that the applicants had already been processing there for about a year, unaware that although the building is zoned for commercial use it is designated for residential use and that they were not in compliance with city codes. They ceased operating their business when they learned about this, spoke with city staff, and submitted this application. Although they could apply for a designation change to commercial use, Howard and the commissioners noted that the majority of the surrounding area are single family residences and that that would not fit with future plans for the neighborhood. 

There was much discussion from the owner and two neighbors, one of whom—Andrew McGoy—opposed the operation if it were to increase the “possibility of a criminal element” in the neighborhood. The applicant, Stacy Hardwick, explained that they produce infused butter and pain cream and keep very little marijuana on site. Further, the only employees are himself and two family members, and they deliver their finished product to a wholesaler, so there is no added traffic from customers or distributors. Hardwick said he and his family “got into this business because [his] daughter has MS and she had a rack of medications” she was taking daily. Now, because of these products, he says she has been able to quit taking all traditional medications.

The majority of the commission (all but Martin) agreed that the effect of the project on the adjacent properties is minimal and that it should not affect community welfare or have a negative impact on public facilities. The application was approved. 

Local restaurant owner Chad Cacy applied to open a marijuana retail dispensary/establishment at 10289 State Highway 66, just south of La Margarita restaurant. This location is currently zoned Commercial General, which is “ideally where we would like to see this type of” business, commented Howard. The location is also designated Commercial on the future land use map in the comprehensive plan. No one from the public spoke either for or against the action, and staff recommended approval. Commissioner Kayla Parnell inquired about Cacy’s security measures and he answered the “it’s set up very well for a dispensary already” but that they will also be installing cameras, locking doors, and turning an office into a vault for their inventory. This was unanimously approved. 

All approved SUP’s will be presented at Monday’s City Council meeting at 7 p.m. for final approval. The applicant who was denied has 15 days to appeal to the City Council. 

Sapulpa Planning Commission meetings are held on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. They are open to the public and all are welcome to attend.