Planning commission approves new Otay Mesa pot dispensary - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Planning commission approves new Otay Mesa pot dispensary

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An appeal of a conditional use permit granted to a San Diego State University business professor to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Otay Mesa was unanimously denied by the city's Planning Commission Thursday.

In October, a city hearing officer granted a conditional use permit to David Blair to open A Green Alternative in a 1,400-square-foot space in a strip mall at 2335 Roll Drive, near the Brown Field airport. It was the first permit for a legal dispensary to be granted by the city.

The hearing officer's ruling was appealed by Barbara Gordon, a North County drug prevention specialist.

Blair applied for the permit under rules established by the City Council earlier this year. The regulations require prospective dispensary owners to go through a lengthy permit application process, and also specify zoning and distances to keep the operations away from residences, schools, churches and the like.

In the case of A Green Alternative, the neighborhood is zoned "heavy commercial" and includes a fast-food restaurant, a filling station and a warehouse.

Commissioner Susan Peerson said A Green Alternative "meets and exceeds" the requirements of the permit.

Blair and his representatives told the commissioners that they have hired a security firm to provide guards at all times for the facility. They also said the nearest neighborhood is 4.9 miles away and the nearest residence, which is just under 2 miles away, is a prison.

"We know right from wrong, we know what the ordinance says," Blair said. "The reason that we floated to the first position (among permit applicants) is because every time the city requested something of us, we doubled it."

Opponents of the dispensary contended that "heavy commercial" doesn't adequately describe the area because the businesses are patronized by families with children.

When A Green Alternatives does open, it will be the first legal medical marijuana dispensary in San Diego and the second in the county. One opened on unincorporated land near El Cajon in July.

The rules set by the City Council will allow up to four legal marijuana dispensaries per council district within city limits.

A couple of other dispensaries have been approved by the hearing officer. City planning staff is still processing other permit applications.

Police and code enforcement officers have worked with the City Attorney's Office to get court orders to shut down numerous pot shops operating illegally.

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