A decision to change zoning to allow Blake Frost to open a medical marijuana dispensary at 312 West Main Street was left up in the air Thursday night. Following a 20-minute discussion with the property owner and his attorney, the question was tabled.
That was the lone item on the Henryetta planning and zoning authority agenda at the special meeting.
Frost purchased the building in October and has been renovating the interior and exterior in preparation for the new business. He had requested zoning change from a C3 general commercial designation to C2 highway commercial and commercial recreation.
Last year the planning authority had placed medical marijuana dispensaries in a C2 category which meant it would be ineligible to open on Main Street.
Tulsa attorney Ronald Durbin said Frost did not know about the change in zoning and claimed city codes available online do not reflect the changes.
“I called the city and tried to find where the changes were made to the zoning. It doesn’t exist,” he said. Durbin told the authority that he had to do an open records act request to finally get the meeting agenda notes. “It doesn’t put the citizens on reasonable notice of what zoning ordinances were. I have never had to jump through so many hoops.”
Code enforcement officer Jody Agee said no one had asked him what the zoning was for that location. “We shouldn’t have to find the right guy to find out what the law is in the city,” Durbin replied.
Authority chair Jill Francis said the April 9 minutes show where the changes were approved but Durbin said he could find no official documents on the change. “This is a problem with the city council.”
Several people in the audience were on hand to express concerns over the impact the dispensary would have on their businesses.
Kelly Dobson is the owner of the Nail Boutique and Lodge Event Center, both located just east of the proposed business.
She pointed out that parking in that block of Main Street is a problem and felt the business would add to the issue. Also concerning her was the smell. “I know for a fact there is a bank in McAlester that is moving because it is next door to a dispensary.
Both Frost and Durbin said there is nothing that can be done about the parking issue but pointed out CO2 scrubbers can be added to air conditioners to eliminate the smell.
Also referenced was the possibility of increased criminal activity but Frost, who has served in law enforcement, said that is a problem everywhere.
Durbin pointed out research has indicated dispensaries do not have a higher crime rate than gas stations.
Authority member Keith Estes moved that the issue be tabled for further study, ”Since we have been put on notice that we have a legal issue.” No date was set for the authority to make a final ruling.