BAKERSFIELD — Four Rosamond marijuana businesses have another month to make their case to the Kern County Board of Supervisors that they should be allowed to operate until November, a year beyond the date they were originally supposed to close following the county’s ban on such enterprises.
These businesses’ appeals of earlier Planning and Natural Resources Department decisions were continued on Tuesday to March 18 at 9 a.m., in order to allow them additional time to gather information to support their cases.
Kern County banned all commercial marijuana business activities in the unincorporated areas in October 2017, but a handful of medical use dispensaries were given time for an orderly shutdown, with certain conditions they had to meet. Most have not met those conditions, according to county officials.
Marijuana outlets have long been an issue in Rosamond, where they have proliferated, particularly in the traditional downtown business district along Diamond Street and Sierra Highway.
The four Rosamond businesses in question are: AVDC, 1733 Sierra Highway; Tanner Vest Collective, 2753 Diamond St.; The Plum Tree Collective, 2873 Sierra Highway; and Organic Health Solutions, 1315 Rosamond Blvd., Suite A.
A fifth business, Vape and Bake, at 2689 Sierra Highway, Unit B, withdrew its appeal of the order to close in May prior to Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
Businesses like these that were allowed to stay open long enough for an orderly closure were considered “legal non-conforming” businesses because they were established under an earlier ordinance and prior to the county’s May 2016 moratorium on new or relocated dispensaries.
The ordinance banning marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas has provisions for these businesses previously deemed legal to have a year to close down, as required by federal law to allow the businesses to recoup their investment following the change in laws.
While allowed to continue operating during an orderly shutdown, these outlets also were required to “get legal” by obtaining building permits and state licenses.
The original deadline for these businesses to close was November 2018, but the Board granted a six-month extension to May 24, 2019.
Planning staff had recommended against a further extension in the staff report to Tuesday’s meeting, but supported the businesses’ request to continue the matter to next month.
“We would like to provide additional information, given the short time between the Thursday staff report that we received and today’s date,” said Philip Ganong, an attorney representing all four Rosamond businesses. “We felt that it was inadequate for us to do a proper job to present the data that was necessary for staff to have a fair review of the factual basis.”
The information that staff used in making its recommendation to the Board was from September, he said, and they had not had the opportunity to update it since then.
Ganong said they intend to have the information to staff quickly, so that they have time to review it and make a recommendation to the Board.
“There’s really no benefit to us in trying to sandbag the Board,” he said.
For one of the businesses, Organic Health Solutions, the additional information to be provided includes an appraisal of the property on which the business stands, as the entire three-acre lot has been included in the business’ financial statements, but this includes not only the commercial storefront facing Rosamond Boulevard but also four residential units behind it.
The appraisal is to apportion the value of the commercial part as pertaining to the business.
“That appraisal is under way. We fully expect it to be received in the next week to two weeks,” Ganong said.
Without the storefronts, medical marijuana users in Rosamond will have only delivery services available, which cannot be outlawed by state law.
Rosamond resident Lisa Checkley, a member of the Rosamond Municipal Advisory Council, asked the Board to consider additional law enforcement for the community when delivery becomes the only option.
“It is going to drive up our crime rates,” she said. “These delivery drivers have targets on their backs.
“I’m concerned for the safety of my town as far as not having enough police presence as it is,” she said.
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