Principle Use vs. Special Use for Marijuana Ordinance

Sue CitraroUncategorized

There has been a debate as to whether the marijuana ordinance should be principle use or special use. I believe it should be special use and here is why:

Principle use means, if a developer meets current codes, they can build whatever and as many as they want, of a specific type business. The Planning Commission could see a site plan for approval. Or this could be approved administratively if it is in an already established building.

Principle use like a liquor license is a little different in that the state allows for a certain number of licenses based on a city’s population size. The city’s legislative body makes a recommendation on who receives a license, but does not have discretion to determine the number of liquor licenses.

Special use is when the city’s codes allow for only a certain number of a type of businesses. The rational is that they may have a big impact on the city and/or the neighborhoods. A special use request goes before the Planning Commission who will look at not only traffic patterns, but parking, if it fits into the city’s master plan, the impact on the residents and other local businesses, etc.

What the marijuana ordinance is trying to do is be a hybrid of these two uses.

In reading the proposed ordinance, the check list developed by the city manager and building department closely match the special use criteria.

I believe it would be easier and more efficient to have this as a special use since a public hearing, special use application and site plan approval can be all done during the same meeting. Otherwise, this ordinance would have the prospective licensee go before the Planning Commission for site plan approval only.  And it is uncertain what would happen if the Planning Commission disagreed with City Council on the location of the proposed business.

I understand the narrowing of potential license applicants but without the Planning Commission involvement at an earlier stage this seems ripe for unintended consequences