Sunday, May 1, 2011

Paradise Valley continues application process for pot dispensary

The saga of Paradise Valley's first application to dispense medical marijuana in town has yet to reach its final chapter.

In March, the owners of Mountain View Medical Center submitted a special-use permit for a medical-marijuana dispensary, and they have run up against a consistently growing stream of opposition from nearby neighborhoods and tenants of the complex.

Thursday night, the Town Council voted 4-2 to continue the application process so that the applicant can meet with opponents to alleviate some of the fears they have about bringing this new industry into the area.

It was the second public meeting for the application and the second continuance.

During Thursday's meeting, which lasted more than five hours, the council convened for two executive sessions - one to discuss the special-use permit and one to discuss the town's medical-marijuana zoning ordinance that was passed on a 5-1 vote.

Tenants of the facility on the southeastern corner of Tatum and Shea boulevards say it is an inappropriate place to dispense marijuana. Residents of the nearest housing development, Firebrand Ranch, fear for the children who live in the area.

More than 40 of the at least 60 people in attendance signed up to speak.

Stacy Young said she and her family moved to Paradise Valley six years ago because of its reputation as a safe place to live with good schools. During her first month in town, a burglar jumped into her yard, which backs up to the complex, after stealing medicine from a pharmacy at Mountain View Medical Center.

"I'm fearful and nervous that could happen again," she said.

The mother of six showed a photo of her family to the council. She said she missed her daughter's opening night of "Hello Dolly" to attend the council meeting.

Representatives of an applicant, Reggie Winssinger, say the site is a model for medical professionalism and a model for the industry. Over the past 1 1/2 months, the applicant has added levels of security to quell the concerns of the Planning Commission, residents and tenants.

Jordan Rose of the Rose Law Group, which represents Winssinger, said the dispensary will have nine cameras, require a radio-frequency card for all patients to have access to the dispensary, and on-site security 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"My client wants to create a model to emulate," Rose said.

Mayor Scott LeMarr said that despite the security, the dispensary is a tough sell.

"The applicant is going to have to do a stellar job to convince the neighbors," LeMarr said, "They've got some work cut out for them if they are going to get my vote."

The council will meet for a final vote June 9.

by Philip Haldiman The Arizona Republic Apr. 29, 2011 04:55 PM




Paradise Valley continues application process for pot dispensary

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