At Tuesday evening’s Sapulpa Planning Commission Meeting, the bulk of the discussion was around the three new medical marijuana facilities that were up for recommending approval or denial for their Special Use Permit before they head to the City Council for the final vote. Of the three facilities, two were recommended for denial and one was recommended for approval.
New dispensary in Atwoods shopping center recommended for approval
The approved facility was a dispensary to be located at 804 E. Taft Ave., in the Atwoods shopping center. The applicant, Michael Cato, told the commission that he owns another dispensary in Tulsa and found the spot by using a GPS tool to find a location that met the state requirements for positioning of a dispensary.
Paula Wilhoit, a VP of the Wilhoit Properties, expressed concern about the dispensary, which would be situated fairly close to the “family community” of the Cambridge Court apartment complex behind the shopping center, which Wilhoit owns. In a letter to the city, she says that the property received federal funds and adhere’s to the government’s federal classification of medical marijuana. “Our property has a no-tolerance police,” she stated.
Being that the apartment complex was fenced and screened away from the dispensary, the commission passed a motion to recommend approval of the dispensary, including a recommendation for the construction of concrete barriers at the front of the store. Cato said plans to build those barriers were already underway.
The shop will be called Mike’s Medical Dispensary and is expecting to open late November, pending City Council approval.
Former Smith Sisters gas station site recommended for denial
The former Smith Sisters gas station at 2715 E. Highway 117 was recommended for denial after a handful of residents surrounding the area came forward and spoke out against the use of the facility as a dispensary, regarding primarily it’s location near churches and housing neighborhoods.
As of October 22nd, the space was still out of compliance with city regulations, following a notice of abatement that had been posted near the first of October. Urban Development Director Nikki Howard told the Planning Commission board that it appeared that the grass had been mowed, but that the trash and furniture in the parking lot was still a problem, and that furthermore, the advertising and signage for the gas station was still there, and that the pumps themselves were still operational.
Jasson Brooks explained that he didn’t think the applicant fully understood the amount of work it was going to take to convert the space to be usable as a dispensary. “You’re going to have to dig up those gas tanks and fill it in, and re-pour the concrete, and everything else. It’s going to be a huge undertaking,” he said.
The commission recommended denial on that dispensary. It will still go before the Sapulpa City Council for final approval or denial.
Downtown restaurant location recommended for denial
The final facility up for recommendation of approval that night was the former location of Randall’s Diner, at 219 East Dewey Ave. Applicant Patricia Goins, who goes by Angie, said that the spot was particularly appealing because of the commercial kitchen that was available. She said they had already acquired all the necessary certifications and had been paying rent since August, when Randall’s Diner had closed.
When the board raised concerns about the location being in the central business district, an area normally reserved for retail spaces that take advantage of the foot traffic downtown, Angie’s husband Tyler Goins stated the space has been hard for a restaurant to stay in business because of parking issues. “This space can either stay vacant, or we can do something with it,” he said.
The space was to be designated as a medical marijuana processing facility, which is not open to the public, and would only sell to actual dispensaries. Tyler Goins believed the amount of attention the space has gotten since the public notice was posted was unwarranted, saying “I’d rather that people not even know we’re here.”
It was ultimately that point of contention that led the board to recommend denial. Hunter Edwards told the Goins, “We want a business in that space that wants to be seen,” he said.
The Sapulpa Planning Commission is a recommending body only, which means that the Sapulpa City Council still has to approve or deny these businesses. To date, the City Council has not gone against the Sapulpa Planning Commission regarding Special Use Permits for medical marijuana, growers, processors or dispensaries.