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Council approves cannabis license for Evergreen Market
Evergreen market 2
Evergreen Market has five locations in Washington and their stores’ floor plans resemble a “modern country market" (Photo courtesy of Evergreen Market).

For Washington-based Evergreen Market, there’s light at the end of the Turlock tunnel.

Evergreen has been issued one of Turlock’s four retail cannabis licenses as part of the city’s pilot program, but has had trouble getting its store off the ground due to myriad stops and starts.

However, the City Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday — Mayor Amy Bublak opposed — to approve Evergreen Market’s development agreement after months of wrangling. 

“Evergreen goes back to the planning commission to have the conditional use permit heard,” said Ariana Van Alstine, representative for Evergreen Market. “The conditional use permit relates to the ability to operate the specific business — the specific use — on the land, subject to conditions that the city lays out for the business.”

Evergreen Market — which operates five outlets in the greater Seattle area but can’t expand further there because of Washington state laws — began the process back in 2019, but an agreement to lease a property at 693 N. Golden State Blvd. fell through. A search for a new location ensued, followed by paperwork delays, city staff turnover, a worldwide pandemic, and the need to restart the background-check process because so much time had passed since the original checks were completed.

All this combined to make it a lengthier process than those faced by Firehouse Cannabis Dispensary, 1601 W. Main St., and Perfect Union Weed Dispensary, 2500 N. Golden State Blvd.

National Healing Center is the fourth Turlock dispensary and is slated to open soon, according to the city.

Vice-Mayor Pam Franco asked city attorney George Petrulakis where the fault lay in getting this development agreement approved in a timely manner … with the city or with the applicant?

“It’s kind of a mixed bag,” said Petrulakis. “On the city’s side, there were different occupants of the city clerk’s chair and the city attorney’s chair. And when Evergreen didn’t proceed with the initial development agreement, it kind of languished.”

After the planning commission signs off on a conditional use permit, Evergreen soon will be able to start renovations on its new location at 101 E. Glenwood Ave. Evergreen has been leasing the property for more than a year — at $15,000 per month.

Already, the pilot cannabis program has generated more than $3 million for the city.

During fiscal year 2020-21, the city received $1,181,315.11 in revenue from sales of cannabis. The following year, the city garnered $1,241,144.88. And through about half of the 2022-23 fiscal year, the program has generated about $600,000.

Development agreements, used in conjunction with conditional use permits, allow for the regulation of cannabis businesses by determining the standards and conditions that will govern development of the property. In terms of cannabis, development agreements between local jurisdictions and commercial cannabis properties typically include a “public benefit” amount, designed and intended to offset or mitigate any potential impacts of the project on the community.

Under the approved development agreement, Evergreen will pay to the city a public benefit amount of no less than $25,000 per month or 5.25 percent of its gross receipts from its operations on a monthly basis. The minimum public benefit amount will increase by $5,000 annually throughout the five-year development agreement.