Ahwatukee AZ Dispensary Upsets Schools
The community surrounding an Ahwatukee preschool is up in arms as of late after learning of the potential for a pot dispensary in the works nearby. Recent news surfaced regarding the apparent award from the state for a license allowing a medical marijuana dispensary to be located just under 10 feet away from the playground of said preschool.
Once the news started to circulate, the controversy has been growing amidst the neighborhood and the surrounding area. However, there is, even more, mystery and intrigue that is following this story.
Neighboring residents, businesses and the leaders of the Grace Garden Christian Preschool were floored when learning that the Department of Health Services in the state had granted the dispensary license for the nearby building that is currently the location for an oil change garage, Valvoline Express Care.
The kicker here is that they are not even sure who may have received the license, or why they got it.
Director of the preschool, Catherine Thomson, noted that she was in total shock after learning about the grant to open the medical marijuana Ahwatukee dispensary. She recently held a meeting with concerned neighbors and parents as a way to strategize on how they could begin fighting the development of the dispensary.
The Grace Garden Christian Preschool has been a solid part of the community for 14 years, and it is located just a few hundred feet from the local church that has 600 active members. Close by; there is a thriving strip mall enjoyed by the neighborhood, as well as another preschool. It happens to be located just one block away from a building that is currently housing yet another medical marijuana dispensary.
Catherine Thomson noted that they are not opposed to the use and dispensing of medical marijuana, however, the issue is more as to the location itself. If the laws state that it is not okay for any dispensary to be positioned right next to a daycare facility or a school, then it should not be able to go in right up against a preschool, right?
The preschool director is not the only person posed this very same question.
The Department of Health Services is where the mystery truly begins. A spokeswoman for the DHS put out a statement saying that any dispensary licenses are never supposed to be public record. She was unable to confirm even if there was a license that had been approved for the building in question.
The office for the Councilman Sal DiCiccio is also puzzled about these events. Chief of Staff for the Office of the Councilman, Rana Lashgari, talked with the dispensary Ahwatukee group and told them that as of now, there is nobody that has even applied for any zoning permit to be able to run such a dispensary at the address that is in question. She went on further to say that the staff for Councilman DiCiccio had been working to determine exactly who owns the building and why the permit had been issued in the first place.
She told the group that the office cares and understands the concern and that they have someone who is assigned solely to this case. This is a process that has a lot of oversight, but they are confident that it is not going to slip through the cracks.
Lashgari noted that once anyone applies for a zoning permit, they have to state the information on the front door of whatever building where the business is set to be. There will also be several hearings that need to take place before some local governing entities.
With the group of approximately 20 Ahwatukee dispensary people that gathered for the recent meeting, many are convinced that the person who must have obtained the license has deep pockets, seeing how that such licenses would be worth a lot of revenue dollars for the individuals or companies that possess them.
Local neighbors, many of which are advocates of the use of medical marijuana, noted that this is more of a matter of corruption and crime on a corporate level. The worry is that the group, or individual, who obtained the license can get around all of the zoning laws and local government by way of high-paid lawyers.
The fear is that many parents may pull their students from the schools in the area, as the will not be able to function without the parental support and fundraising throughout the year.
License applications for the dispensary cost a non-refundable fee of $5,000. There have been numerous other businesses that have applied for the same licenses, and many are still not approved.