Chandler begins hearings on medical marijuana zoning - East Valley Tribune: Chandler

Chandler begins hearings on medical marijuana zoning

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Posted: Monday, January 17, 2011 7:00 am | Updated: 10:31 pm, Mon Jan 24, 2011.

When local cities began crafting ordinances regulating the dispensing of medical marijuana in November, Chandler took a wait-and-see approach.

City officials opted to observe what other municipalities came up with, and put many of those regulations in an eight-page document of proposed amendments to the city’s zoning code regarding medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation sites.

Public hearings on the amendments will he held by the planning and zoning commission at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and the City Council at 7 p.m. Feb. 10. Both meetings are at the Council chambers, 88 E. Chicago St.

“The planning commission next week will review and make a further recommendation to the Council for February,” said Jeff Kurtz, Chandler planning administrator. “It’s patterned after what some other Valley cities have done. Where it actually ends up will be decided by the Council.”

In November, Arizona voters approved Proposition 203, which allows the sale of medical marijuana. Chandler officials expect the ordinance-adoption process to be completed by the end of March.

The process is under way in Tempe, where councilmembers spent most of Thursday’s meeting listening to the questions and concerns of citizens. No formal action was taken.

In Chandler, rules governing dispensary and cultivation facility sizes, hours of operation and proximity to schools and churches are among the amendments. Assistant city manager Pat McDermott said he expects some of them will be shaved from the final proposal as the commission and Council craft an ordinance designed for the city.

“We took all of the things we saw other cities doing, put them all in our ordinance as a draft, which allows the Council to do its due diligence and take out things they felt were not necessary,” McDermott said. “My assumption — and this is just me speculating — is that several of those will be eliminated by the Council. …

“That’s what the draft is: Here is what everyone has done in ordinance form, so let’s see what Chandler needs to do.”

The Chandler draft calls for facilities to be at least 1,320 feet from a school, church, daycare center, hospital, park or library. Dispensaries would be located in retail areas and cultivation sites in industrial areas.

There will be a limit of 120 dispensaries statewide. It is unclear how many will be located in Chandler.

McDermott said he is uncertain how big the market for medical marijuana will be.

“I guess you could look to states like California, but who really knows?” McDermott said. “It might turn out that 120 dispensaries are too many.”

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