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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Chico Dismisses Three Appeals for Rejected Cannabis Dispensary Applications

CHICO – Four rejected applicants for cannabis dispensary businesses heard their appeals during Tuesday’s Chico City Council meeting and three were executed.

The proposed businesses, which included Authentic Chico, Velvet Chico, Ash Chico and Grupo Floor, were four of 29 applicants that were rejected on the grounds of code violations. The violations all came down to dispensaries, which are thought to be too close to sites that cater to youth.

According to City Attorney Vincent Ewing, the remaining 25 applicants will at least move on to the next step with their business.

Each applicant had a chance to argue his case as to why his refusal should be appealed.

The most divisive was the decision of Authentic Chico, which was closed by a 3–3 vote. Councilor Sean Morgan did not attend the meeting. It was determined by city employees that the business earmarked for 900 Mangrove Avenue, a former bank and current COVID-19 testing site, was too close to the Apollo School of Music located at Mangrove Plaza.

Co-owner Susan Hearn represented the business during the appeals process and argued that the music school did not have a business license that explicitly deemed it for youth purposes, adding that the business was originally a school. but a piano sales and rental storefront.

“The other concern is that we went to town and got a copy of the business license for the Apollo School of Music and it’s not really named for young people,” Hearn said. “Its classification is BU. B is the educational occupancy for students above 12th standard.”

Hearn said it would have had a different classification if the school had been filed as a place for minors.

Counselor Casey Reynolds said that upon inspecting the information herself, she also noticed that the school’s license was classified as being for use by adults.

“Clearly it’s licensed to BU that throws a wrench in our decision,” Reynolds said.

Mayor Andrew Coolidge asked the staff to what extent Round Table Pizza is considered to be because it sometimes caters to the youth and has an arcade. Since the business is licensed as a restaurant, it was not considered.

Councilor Deepika Tandon asked the city attorney what percentage of the students at Apollo were adults and what percentage were underage, although the staff did not have that data.

Reynolds offered to accept the appeal and allow Authentic Chico to proceed, a proposal supported by counselor Alex Brown.

Ultimately, only Reynolds, Brown and Tandon voted in favor of the applicant and therefore did not proceed.

“I think he made a mistake,” Hearn said during the meeting break. “I mean, if you look at the law, the city code says that when you apply there has to be a business certificate that specifies the location in specific use. And it’s very clear that we have proof from the city. The letter states that it is an educational facility for class 12th above and does not mention Yuva Kendra. They could have changed the occupancy certificate to modify it to be a facility for youth, but they Has not done this. “

While Grupo Flor and Ash Chico were also killed by council, both unanimously, Velvet Chico got a 5–1 approval, with Councilor Mike O’Brien appealing against a single vote.

City employees rejected Velvet Chico’s application on the grounds that its location was 528 feet from the step-by-step daycare.

Ewing said the daycare only had one client, but he was actively pursuing more.

In general, codes require that dispensaries be located no less than 1,000 feet from or 600 feet from schools teaching sixth through 12th grades and catering to students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Brown offered to accept the appeal and allow the business to continue.

“It’s one I’m inclined to support the appeal,” Brown said. “Given the timeline issues, looking at the language, given the specifics that four to eight minors will be present in this business and given that it’s about 600 feet from the business, for me, I think It’s one I’ll accept.”

Coolidge agreed with Brown and supported the motion to allow the appeal and asked Velvet Chico to proceed with the application process.

Members of the public and advocates spoke out in support of the proposed businesses during the public comments for each hearing.

“We have an epidemic with vape pods,” Ginger Thomas said. “They’re being sold everywhere. All 7-Eleven windows have pictures of them and that’s fine. We’ve refused permits near the round table, but the unwind bar is right next door.”

World Nation News Desk
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