Commercial cannabis ordinances get final Council vote tonight

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Martinez’s proposed commercial cannabis ordinances will receive a final City Council vote tonight.

The Council’s votes would repeal certain portions of the Municipal Code and modify the law to allow commercial cannabis uses in specified zoning districts.

The panel previously introduced the two ordinances at its March 20 meeting.

At that meeting, the Council acknowledged the time and expense spent by Firefly, the sole application that had been submitted prior to the institution of a moratorium on commercial operations until the new ordinances could be crafted.

In her report, Community and Economic Development Director Christina Ratcliffe wrote that the Council asked staff to incorporate some form of accommodation for Firefly in the new ordinances.

She wrote that city staff is recommending Firefly withdraw its current application and submit a new proposal under the new ordinance, with fees and payments for staff time to be waived.

The existing application contains most of the information that would be required under the new ordinance, and staff would work with Firefly’s representatives to make necessary changes, she wrote.

“Finally, staff is recommending that Council accelerate the Firefly proposal to be reviewed by staff and Council prior to other proposals,” she write.

Those elements would be introduced as an amendment at the Council’s April 17 meeting.

In passing the new laws, the Council would establish the parameters under which the new businesses would operate and how those in each category would be chosen for the opportunity to open in Martinez. It also would set performance standards for businesses.

The ordinances would establish where the companies could open, generally in areas where similar categories of businesses are allowed to operate. Those awarded conditional certificates would be allowed to apply for planning and building permits. Businesses would need a commercial cannabis operator permit before they could open.

Fees would be set in the city’s fee schedule.

The law changes would allow two dispensaries or retail cannabis stores, one manufacturing business, one distribution business, one testing laboratory and one non-storefront retail business. Deliveries in the city limits only by those with a delivery permit issued by the police chief.

The ordinances are on tonight’s consent calendar, which will be decided by a single vote unless items are taken off for separate consideration.

The Council will take public comment on a resolution that would set the city’s master fee schedule.

Administrative review fees would increase from $188 an hour to $193 an hour.

Base building fees are set on a sliding scale that range from $84 to $13,199, and those would increase to from $90 to $14,215. Multiple other building and planning fees would be increased moderately as well.

Parks reservations, site rentals, sports user fees, pool use, senior center memberships, tree planting and certain police services, such as permits and reports, are included in the fee schedule.

The Council also will be asked to adopt an urgency ordinance to establish regulations for small telecommunications equipment both in and outside the public right of way and to update siting regulations for all telecommunications sites.

This request is city staff’s response to a new order of the Federal Communications Commission on putting small cell wireless communications equipment to accelerate 5G cellular networks.

Also on the consent calendar is a resolution approving Subdivision No. 9263, “Townhomes at Laurel Knoll,” on Muir Station Road near the Muir Station Shopping Center.

The Council approved a General Plan Amendment July 24, 2013, that included rezoning, major subdivision and planned unit development for the construction of 76 attached townhomes.

The developer has submitted the subdivision final map and other required documents, wrote City Engineer Tim Tucker before his retirement.

Streets and storm drain systems would be private but the developer would build frontage improvements and extend water and sewer and an asphalt raised five-foot pathway from Alhambra Way to the subdivision.

Recreation Supervisor Patty Lorick will ask the Council to authorize an updated agreement between the city and the Martinez Community Swim Team for use of the Rankin Aquatic Center.

The Council will meet at 6 p.m. today in a closed session to discuss labor matters.

The regular meeting will start at 7 p.m. today in the Council Chamber of Martinez City Hall, 525 Henrietta St.

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