Marijuana Retailer Appeals to City Council to Reverse Decisions Denying Its Conditional Use Permit to Secure a Storefront

Published : Monday, October 7, 2019 | 5:33 AM

Caption:SweetFlower Pasadena submitted an application for a conditional use permit (CUP) to open a retail outlet at 827 East Colorado Avenue that was rejected in June on grounds that it was incomplete for lack of a location map prepared by a licensed surveyor.

On Monday the Pasadena City Council will review and vote on a ruling by the City’s Board of Zoning to deny an appeal filed by a cannabis operator after the Planning Director rejected his application for a Conditional Use Permit.

In August, Board of Zoning Appeals voted 4-1 to uphold a decision to reject SweetFlower Pasadena LLC’s Conditional Use Permit after it decided the company failed to meet a requirement that called for a mapping report prepared by a licensed surveyor.

According to a city staff report, officials were SweetFlower were made aware of the requirements early in the process.

“The appellant was well informed in advance of submission of its application as to the City’s requirements for a complete application. All other CUP applications received for Commercial Cannabis Retailers have complied with the requirement to include a location map prepared by a licensed surveyor.”

SweetFlower planned to open a cannabis shop near Lake Avenue and Colorado Boulevard in District 3.

Two other operators, Harvest and Atrium also filed CUP applications to open shop in that district. According to the city’s ordinance, each district can only have one cannabis shop.

“The requirement for the location map to be prepared by a licensed surveyor is imperative to the determination as to whether an application can be processed because only an appropriately licensed surveyor can LEGALLY verify with that the proposed location complies with the required distance separations from sensitive uses,” according to a staff report submitted by Planning Director David Reyes and approved by City Manager Steve Mermell.

If the council votes to uphold the Board of Zoning’s ruling it would probably end SweetFlower’s chances of opening a cannabis outlet in Pasadena.

The City has announced that only three shops will be granted Conditional Use Permits based on available storefronts and distance requirements prohibiting cannabis outlets from doing business near schools, churches and libraries.

If the Board of Zoning Appeal’s determination is overturned, it would likely also invalidate applications by Harvest of Pasadena, LLC and Integral Associates Dena, LLC.

According to the staff report, “Those two applications would not be processed further as those two applications would lose their status as in conformance with distance separation requirements and/or exceeding the maximum number of retail establishments per district limitation.”

Harvest’s application is scheduled to be heard by the Planning Commission, along with the Integral application, on Wednesday night. City staff is recommending the approval of the applications.

In June, city officials announced that SweetFlower Pasadena along with Integral Associates Dena, Tony Fong, the Atrium Group, Harvest of Pasadena and MME Pasadena Retail scored the highest in the city’s cannabis process.

The city’s cannabis application has been fraught with accusations of misconduct and at least one lawsuit has been filed.

Owners of the Atrium Group of Westlake Village assert the company has suffered substantial economic damages, including loss of sales and business profits, injury to its business reputation and loss of business opportunity after the company was denied a CUP in District 3.

The Atrium Group claims the City is looking the other way while Harvest of Pasadena violates another condition of the ordinance which bans cannabis dispensaries from operating within 600 feet of a library.

Besides only allowing one dispensary per Council district, the ordinance mandates dispensaries must be at least 600 feet away from residential neighborhoods, schools, libraries, churches and parks. Plus, dispensaries and cultivators cannot operate within 1,000 feet of each other.

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