Will Fircrest allow marijuana businesses or will the City Council pass a ban prohibiting stores from opening in the predominately residential city?
A decision is pending as the council weighs public testimony from a meeting late Tuesday with a recommendation from the city planning commission proposing a ban on all marijuana businesses in the city of 6,600 people.
Seven of the 12 people who testified Tuesday pushed for prohibition of marijuana. They cited Fircrest’s family-friendly reputation and expressed concern that allowing a marijuana store would destroy the city’s quaintness.
So far, city officials have turned away businesses inquiring about opening, citing federal law. City Manager Rick Rosenbladt has estimated “four to five” businesses have expressed interest in opening in Fircrest in the four years since marijuana was legalized statewide.
There is only one location where a marijuana store could open because of city zoning and state buffers. That is at Emerson Courtyard, a two-story commercial property leasing retail, restaurant and office space at 4040 Orchard St.
Resident Leonard Smith questioned the impact a marijuana store in the complex would have on existing businesses.
If I had an Edward Jones business up there with a marijuana shop next door I’m not sure my clientele would want to come and visit me.
Leonard Smith, Fircrest resident
“If I had an Edward Jones business up there with a marijuana shop next door, I’m not sure my clientele would want to come and visit me,” he said late Tuesday.
This summer, the City Council asked its planning commission to review regulating marijuana sales in the city. The commission was asked to look at current zoning to determine where stores would be most appropriate and how close they could be to transit centers and day care facilities, among other sites.
The commission reviewed the council’s request, determined the buffers shouldn’t be reduced and in a 3-2 vote directed city planning staff to draft a resolution proposing the ban. A previous motion requesting marijuana businesses be allowed as a conditional use in commercial zones failed.
Ultimately, the commission voted 4-0 to recommend the ban. One commissioner was absent.
Those at Tuesday’s meeting who didn’t speak against marijuana asked the council to do its homework before voting. That includes looking at potential revenue that could be generated.
“I would hope that we would really look and research this before making a decision,” said resident Phaedra Miller. “We’re doing relatively well financially, but that can turn on a dime and we have a lot of empty real estate in our commercial corridor.”
Mayor Matthew Jolibois said he wanted to delay to give staff time to do more research. Jolibois made the initial request this summer to consider marijuana stores in the city, citing a desire to boost revenue.
Rosenbladt said Wednesday it was unclear when the council could vote on the issue. He hoped for more clarity after the council’s Oct. 11 meeting.