Saturday, March 26, 2011

Paradise Valley asked to OK permit for marijuana dispensary

Paradise Valley has received its first permit request to dispense medical marijuana in the town.

Mountain View Medical Center recently submitted a special-use permit application to operate a dispensary at the medical complex at the southeastern corner of Tatum and Shea boulevards.

The 2,736 square-foot dispensary would be located in Building A, on the southern side of the complex.

Attorney Jordan Rose, of the Rose Law Group, said the applicants are Reggie Winssinger and John Bozzo, owners of Mountain View Medical Center.

Rose, who represents Winssinger and Bozzo, said they will not operate the facility, but act as landlords. They want to put stipulations on the facility to ensure it remains medically professional, including that patients be seen by appointment only and that only two patients be seen at a time, she said.

"It is a good location, with low traffic," Rose said. "(My clients) want to attract a responsible tenant who is only interested in providing marijuana for medical purposes, and not recreation."

The town will not allow a dispensary without an approved special-use permit, and the Planning Commission has drafted a Statement of Direction that the Town Council approved 4-2 Thursday.

Council members Vernon Parker and Pam Kirby voted against the Statement of Direction. Councilman Paul Dembow recused himself from voting.

The document is among the first steps in the process and is not a final decision, but it allows the Planning Commission to begin its vetting process.

It includes a number of guidelines that could be included in the final permit, such as prohibiting drive-through services, free samples, home deliveries and cultivation of marijuana.

Proposition 203, legalizing medical-marijuana use, was narrowly passed by voters in November.

Mayor Scott LeMarr said the town wanted to be as restrictive as possible and that allowing a dispensary to operate in a medical complex was the only option for the town. Mountain View Medical Center is the only property in Paradise Valley that has proper zoning for a dispensary.

The location is in a very unobtrusive spot and it must act like a pharmacy, LeMarr said.

"Although I don't condone medical marijuana, the people voted for it," he said. "People are not going to know it's there unless they are a patron of the dispensary or a patient of a doctor in that complex."

Rose said Paradise Valley's overall development character creates challenges for a dispensary looking to locate there.

"Their ordinance is not necessarily more restrictive, it's just that they don't have many buildings that fall into a zoning classification for this use," Jordan said.

Under the new law, individual municipalities are required to set the zoning rules for medical-marijuana dispensaries.

Northeast Valley municipalities that have approved amendments to their zoning ordinances include Scottsdale, Carefree and Fountain Hills. Paradise Valley and Cave Creek are in the process of drafting their ordinances.

At least six permit requests have been submitted to dispense medical marijuana in the Northeast Valley - one in Paradise Valley and five in Scottsdale.

Paradise Valley has its own Community Health Analysis Area, which is among 126 districts drawn by the Arizona Department of Health Services to allow a dispensary. Municipalities approve permits for locations based on proper zoning, but DHS will decide which operators are certified by the state to operate.

by Philip Haldiman The Arizona Republic Mar. 25, 2011 10:33 AM

Paradise Valley asked to OK permit for marijuana dispensary

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