Woodland’s City Council discussed considering an amendment of the city’s commercial cannabis ordinance that would allow dispensaries and other cannabis retailers to conduct retail sales of medical and/or recreational cannabis to customers.
The city currently allows up to six commercial cannabis conditional use permits (CUPs) in the industrial districts for cannabis manufacturing, distributions and testing, according to the staff report. However, it does not allow for storefront retail stores or commercial cannabis cultivation.
Cindy Norris, Woodland’s principal planner, said the city approved the regulatory framework to allow commercial cannabis uses — cannabis-oriented businesses — in the city in 2017.
“To date four of those CUPs have been approved, which allows up to six individual businesses,” Norris explained during the Tuesday meeting. “A CUP runs with the land unless it’s revoked and at this time, the city has three active cannabis businesses but one of the approved locations is currently occupied by a non-cannabis use.”
Business entities are required to obtain a cannabis business permit even if the location meets land use requirements, according to Norris.
“The cannabis business permit sets forth all the regulatory and operating requirements,” she added. “It’s reviewed annually and a cannabis business permit can be denied or revoked.”
Possible zoning amendments would allow cannabis retail in most commercial and mixed-use districts including in downtown Woodland while continuing a 600-foot buffer requirement already in place.
“This means a 600-foot buffer from schools, parks or any youth-serving activity,” Norris emphasized during an October planning commission meeting. “The subcommittee also felt comfortable that the 600-foot sensitivity buffer would likely reduce any overconcentration, particularly downtown.”
The subcommittee was composed of councilwoman Tania Garcia-Cadena, Mayor Pro Tempore Mayra Vega and some planning commissioners.
The city decided to develop amendments to the zoning ordinance after it received an inquiry from Perfect Union — a commercial cannabis retail business with several locations in California — to determine whether the city could amend its zoning ordinance to allow for retail cannabis use, according to the staff report.
Councilman Rich Lansburgh asked if the business provided funding and, if so, how the city would avoid granting them an advantage over other applicants.
Norris explained that the city has often asked applicants be responsible if they would like the city to undertake certain extensive efforts it was not intending to do.
“The follow-up application process will be handled in a structured manner in which all applications will be evaluated including the application from Perfect Union and will be evaluated by staff using scoring criteria, by the subcommittee and by the city council,” Norris explained. “If they happen to present the best application based upon the entire review process then they would be chosen.”
City Manager Ken Hiatt added that the council will make the approval of any application.
Norris also clarified that Perfect Union has not been involved in the city’s process in regards to writing the ordinances of any proposed criteria.
Lansburgh made a motion to defer the item so that staff can discuss issues including the location of permits and other criteria staff used within its report.
“I definitely have concerns about locations because all we mentioned were the circles of influences regarding schools,” he asserted. “What about churches? What about other civic organizations that may not want this across the street? We don’t know those things.”
He also noted concerns about permits being allowed in the downtown area.
“There’s too much diversity on Main Street,” he argued. “Too many kids walk around there. It’s just not a good spot.”
Councilwoman Victoria Fernandez, who also voiced concerns regarding the locations where permits were allowed, seconded Lansburgh’s motion to have staff review the proposed locations and criteria.
“If we’re concerned about downtown then we should be concerned about the perimeters around downtown and the city of Woodland,” Fernandez added.
Fernandez represents District 4 and advocated for residents of her district who might not be in favor of having dispensaries in their neighborhoods.
“The majority of open land that is available is in District 4 in the northeast end of town so it’s not just about downtown, but it’s about our community,” Fernandez emphasized.
Norris explained that the city did notify businesses through email, had display ads around the proposed zones and used social media as a means of noticing the communities that might be affected by the zoning changes, but noted that they did not notify every single property in the zoning districts that were being proposed.
Hiatt said city staff will work with the subcommittee and speak to individual councilmembers regarding concerns and take a harder look at the locations proposed under that ordinance.
“We’ll also look at the criteria, taking some feedback that we’ve heard from the council this evening and start to vet that criteria so that maybe we can bring that back concurrently with a revisit to the ordinance,” Hiatt explained.