A recreational marijuana dispensary is in the works for Williams, said City Administrator Frank Kennedy during the city’s Planning Commission meeting Monday night. “We are looking at possibly recommending a recreational marijuana dispensary on the outskirts of city limits,” said Kennedy. “Unfortunately, how the law is written, if we do that now, we cannot assess additional taxes for the city to generate some revenue. We will have to wait a year until we take it to a ballot measure.”
“We’re a ways off from even going in that direction,” he added.
The comment came after the Planning Commission reviewed the urgency ordinance issued by the Williams City Council in December.
“The City Council implemented an urgency ordinance that took effect immediately regarding the restrictions and specific bans on certain cultivation and uses of marijuana,” said City Planner Monica Stegall. “Because this is part of the zoning ordinance or proposed zoning ordinances, the City Council forwarded the ordinance for the commission’s review and recommendations. It will then go back to the City Council for the first reading and the second reading. After the second reading, it will take effect 30 days after that.”
Recently with Proposition 64, the city needed to make some adjustments to the zoning code regarding the use of marijuana, city officials said.
“The city has the ability to do two things to be concerned about safety and nuisances,” said Kennedy. “If someone is growing marijuana in their backyard, and when it’s about to be harvested, it can give off an odor that can be unpleasant to some people and could disturb neighbors.”
Kennedy added that the City is primarily concerned with the safety of its citizens and faulty growers.
“There are a couple of things we are concerned about indoor growing. We are concerned with someone wiring in some grow lights that don’t meet code and burning down their home and their neighbor’s houses down,” said Kennedy. “There is some ability for the city to require people to register if they are going to grow marijuana, and that they are up to code.”
However, the city isn’t too concerned with the occasional plant.
“If someone is growing marijuana in their house like a houseplant, then we probably don’t care. We have no ability to regulate that or stop that. If they do a real commercial type grow with hydroponics and grow lights, we may want to be aware of that,” said Kennedy. “The law allows the city to issue permits for that, to inspection to make sure everything is going OK.”
Kennedy recommended the commission to approve the ordinance as a safe bet to the city at this time.
“To allow a zero tolerance to the extent of the law, we can do that to ensure everyone’s safety,” he said. “Smoking Marijuana is legal now, you can buy it, and you can smoke it as long as your not in a public area. You can even grow it in your home.”
The law states that the minimum age for possession of marijuana is 21, and that a person cannot be in possession of more than six plants at a time and cannot be seen and must be secured.
The ordinance seeks to explicitly prohibit marijuana dispensaries, marijuana manufacturers, and marijuana delivery as well as outdoor cultivation. Although indoor cultivation is permitted by law, the city is proposing to prohibit cultivation, harvesting, drying, or processing marijuana inside an accessory structure located on the grounds of a private residence, and grants no use permit, building permit, variance, or any other permit or entitlement for any such use or activity.
The ordinance also seeks to prohibit a person from cultivating, harvesting, drying, or processing more than six plants for personal use and the plants, themselves, producing more than 28.5 grams must be kept in a locked space and must not be visible by the normal unaided vision from a public space. Additionally, the ordinance will require a residential indoor marijuana cultivation permit to allow the city to inspect cultivation areas to ensure they are code-compliant before allowing cultivation.
“Although the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) legalized the possession, transport, and purchase of marijuana, it allows for local control of marijuana uses,” said Stegall.
“Some citizens in town would like us to take a more lenient view of the ability to grow marijuana and of the new marijuana laws,” said Kennedy. “That is what the ad hoc committee is working to solve and answer those issues.”
The commission voted 4-0 to recommend the ordinance as written to the Williams City Council.
Stegall commented that most likely the ordinance will begin its first reading during the Feb. 15 meeting of the Williams City Council.