Pubdate: Fri, 15 Jul 2011
Source: Record, The (Stockton, CA)
Copyright: 2011 The Record
Author: Daniel Thigpen


STOCKTON - The city's planning leaders refused Thursday to approve a 
proposed medical marijuana dispensary, opposed by some for its 
proximity to homes and over fears of inadequate parking.

The Planning Commission voted 4-2 to reject the dispensary, proposed 
for one of the primary entrances into Stockton, 1220 W. Fremont St., 
within walking distance of another dispensary approved in May.

"This is in my backyard," said Commissioner Christina Fugazi, who 
voted against the project.

In a bid to save their proposal, the pot dispensary's applicants gave 
commissioners 41 letters of support from nearby businesses and 
residents, many collected after supporters canvassed the area.

The applicants also promised increased security and submitted a 
revised layout plan for on-site parking after concerns about demand 
for street parking in the surrounding neighborhood.

The pot shop, called the Stockton Non-Profit Collective, is proposed 
to be operated by two former mortgage brokers who opened a dispensary 
in Sacramento called El Camino Wellness Center. The landlords would 
be Stockton attorneys Douglas Rishwain and J.T. Rishwain Jr., who 
would charge monthly rent calculated in part by average daily patient 

The city's ordinance prohibits dispensaries from locating within 300 
feet of a residentially zoned property, but the homes across from the 
collective are actually in a commercially zoned area, city officials said.

Dispensary backers stressed to commissioners that the project meets 
all of the requirements of Stockton's new medical marijuana regulations.

Commissioner Antonio Garcia, who supported the dispensary, also made 
note of that.

"I think we're stuck with what the city's laws and ordinances are," 
he said. "Just because we don't like it ... I think we have to follow 
the rules."

The dispensary is not entirely out of contention. The applicants can 
appeal the decision to the City Council.

The proposed dispensary was one of three before planning 
commissioners this year.

Two others, including the other West Fremont Street location, were 
approved in May, including one expected to open in October in east 
Stockton in property owned by Eastland Plaza developers Anthony and 
Edward Barkett.

All three beat out competition earlier this year from six other 
dispensary applicants vying for one of City Hall's first three 
permits allowed under Stockton's new medical marijuana ordinance.

Applicants submitted comprehensive business, security and operational 
plans to a special City Council-appointed panel that, in March, 
scored the applicants and picked three finalists to advance to the 
Planning Commission. The project on the Rishwain property was the top finalist.
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