With towns and cities across the state amending zoning codes to restrict marijuana dispensaries to certain areas of town, Star Valley will take its first look at the issue tonight.
Although the town council is not expected to make any final decisions, it is expected to discuss possible locations for a dispensary and cultivation facilities.
In November, voters approved Proposition 203, the Medical Marijuana Act, which decriminalizes marijuana for medical use. The law allows cities and towns to enact zoning regulations that limit dispensaries to specific areas.
Payson has already adopted ground rules that allow medical marijuana dispensaries in industrial or commercial zones, so long as they’re not within 500 feet of a school, child-care center, park, library, church or any facility devoted to family entertainment. Dispensaries are also barred within 1,000 feet of one another or a drug treatment facility and no more than two dispensaries are allowed within town limits.
Talks are already under way to operate a dispensary in a warehouse near the airport’s industrial area.
In Star Valley, where there are limited commercial properties mostly along the busy Highway 260 corridor, town officials wonder where a dispensary would go.
“We don’t have the dark shadows of an industrial area, like an airport, to put a use like that,” said Town Manager/Attorney Tim Grier. “There really isn’t any good place that isn’t really on the main drag.”
No area of Star Valley is currently zoned for industrial use.
On Tuesday, Grier plans to present seven ordinances adopted by towns around Arizona, including Payson’s ordinance, for review.
“The idea of this first presentation is to get an idea of what kind of ordinance they want to go with, if they want one,” Grier said.
Grier asked independent consultant Terry Smith to write up proposed amendments to the town’s planning and zoning ordinance.
Smith’s plan for regulating dispensaries in commercial and industrial zones includes:
• Marijuana dispensaries must be located in a permanent building and not in a trailer or motor vehicle.
• Dispensaries cannot be located within 2,000 feet of each other.
• They must be 1,000 feet from a residential zone, school, church or park.
• Hours of operation limited to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Drive-thru services prohibited as well as cultivation of marijuana at dispensaries.
• Manufacturing locations can only occupy spaces with a maximum floor area of 500 square feet.
Council member George Binney is expected to recuse himself from the council’s discussion on dispensaries for unknown reasons. Mayor Bill Rappaport will take part in the discussion because he is “not personally involved in any talks with anyone” to open a dispensary in town.
Rumors swirled that Rappaport was investing in a dispensary when he attended a Payson council meeting and sat next a group of would-be investors.
Rappaport said he has no plans to invest in a dispensary and rumors are just that —rumors.
The council has several other items on its Tuesday agenda including:
• Plans to accept an acre of land in Houston Creek between Highway 260 and the Mayfield Canyon Wash confluence free from Theodore and Judy Preble.
• Discussion of a resolution that supports Gila Community College becoming a fully organized community college district.
• Discussion of the town’s emergency evacuation routes.
• A fire hydrant study expected to cost the town half of what it had anticipated.
• The renaming of the Valley Road crossing to Moe’s Crossing.
The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Star Valley town hall, 3675 E. Highway 260.