Appeal filed to stop Glen Ellen’s firehouse dispensary

The proposed Loe Firehouse cannabis dispensary, at the corner of Arnold Drive and Madrone Road in Glen Ellen, was approved unanimously by the county Board of Zoning Adjustments at its April 8 meeting.

But an appeal of the Board of Zoning Adjustments’ (BZA) decision was quickly filed by an alliance called Protect Our Sonoma Valley Neighborhoods. The appeal will bring the final decision on whether the location can be used as a dispensary to the county Board of Supervisors.

Signed by Paul Morrison, a resident of nearby Glenwood Drive, the appeal was filed on April 19; a date for the supervisors to consider the application has not been set.

First District Supervisor Susan Gorin in 2018 told the Index-Tribune she has been discouraging all dispensary applicants along the Highway 12 corridor in the Springs. She has, however, expressed no public opinion on the proposed dispensary at 15499 Arnold Drive.

Morrison said there are about a dozen active members of the neighborhood group he represents, though over 200 have signed a petition circulated opposing the dispensary. “It’s an inappropriate location,” he told the Index-Tribune. “It needs to be in a commercial location, where it is away from people’s homes so it does not affect their personal lives.”

“The opponents of this widely supported project proclaimed in advance of the BZA ruling that they were going to appeal any approval and ’fight like dogs,’” said John Lobro who, with his wife Samantha Smith, is the applicant for the dispensary permit. “The appeal did not come as a surprise to us.“

The appeal lists several objections to the proposed location, including disagreements with the Board of Zoning Adjustments’ findings on available parking, traffic impact, residential setbacks and lack of transparency in meeting with nearby residents.

“If this goes forward it will be a huge impact on us, and a negative impact,” said Morrison. He said his group is planning a public demonstration against the dispensary at a later time.

Saying that his wife’s family has deep roots in Glen Ellen, and it was their wish for accessible, safe cannabis products that led to the dispensary application, Lobro said, “our goal then is the same as it is now. We will provide safe, reliable, professional access to cannabis products to the good people of Glen Ellen.”

The filing of the appeal kicks off a county review process. “A new staff report package must be prepared before the appeal goes forward,” said Bradley Dunn, policy manager at Permit Sonoma. “The staff report will re-evaluate the proposal including analyzing any concerns raised by the appeal.“

Once the report is filed, it may take three or four months for the item to appear on the supervisors’ agenda, said Dunn.

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