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Council amends zoning regulations for cannabis dispensary
Fire House
The City Council amended its zoning regulations to allow all cannabis uses to operate within select areas of the Turlock Regional Industrial Park — including the location where Fire House dispensary has already been approved (Journal file photo).

In order to provide suitable sites for various commercial cannabis businesses permitted by the City of Turlock’s pilot program, the City Council on Tuesday amended its zoning regulations to allow all cannabis uses to operate within select areas of the Turlock Regional Industrial Park — including the location where a dispensary has already been approved.

Original amendments regulating commercial cannabis were adopted by the City Council in August 2019, and since then City staff has been working with applicants on reviewing potential sites for various cannabis uses. Under the original amendments, all cannabis uses were prohibited within the TRIP Master Plan area except within a geographic overlay created by the original amendment.

When the Planning Commission approved a Conditional Use Permit for Fire House Dispensary to operate at 1601 W. Main St. on Jan. 16, they also approved zoning amendments to make sure the retail cannabis business was adhering to Municipal Code standards. Fire House’s proposed location is included in the TRIP, and the Planning Commission approved amendments that got rid of the geographic overlay altogether and allowed for cannabis retail businesses to operate within industrial business park land as well as commercial thoroughfares, like West Main Street.  

The overlay was previously bound by City limits on the west and the south, Highway 99 to the east, the Union Pacific Railroad to the north, then southward along Tegner Road and westward along Ruble Road to the western City limit. During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, action was taken to reinstate this overlay, and add a separate extension of the overlay around the Fire House location in the area bound by Highway 99 to the west, Tully Road to the east and West Main Street to the south. City Council kept the amendment to allow for retail cannabis in commercial thoroughfares.

“We made an error when we originally adopted the plan for the zoning code in terms of a commercial area that we thought was a part of the plan,” City Attorney Doug White said, referring to the plot of land where Fire House will soon open. “This adds retail to a commercial component of the (TRIP) that wasn’t in it before.”

The zoning ordinance will go before the Planning Commission again, White explained, since changes were made by City staff prior to its approval from the Council. He added that the zoning ordinance could come before the Council again if other applicants have difficulty finding locations, and the overlay could be expanded if Council wished to do so.

“…But that’s not a today issue, and that would only be if we continue to have some struggles,” White said, noting that the other dispensaries have already secured locations.

White also added that reinstating the overlay will protect businesses in the northern part of the TRIP, like Blue Diamond Growers, from unwanted contact with cannabis businesses.

“I think that the biggest thing we wanted to do is we want to protect for economic development reasons…the northern part of the (TRIP), which is where Foster Farms and things of that nature have been,” White said. “This would help us preserve those areas as being kind of cannabis-free zones so that to the extent that there’s concerns it would not hurt economic development in those areas.”