Riverside County supervisors Tuesday approved the fourth cannabis retail outlet in the unincorporated community of Highgrove, and the first one in the unincorporated area west of Corona, though the latter met with resistance.
Each proposal was authorized in a 5-0 vote by the Board of Supervisors, who spent over an hour on the Coronita Helping Hands project to be established at the intersection of Via Josefa and Via Santiago, just outside the Corona city limits.
“I’ve struggled with this one,” said Board Chair Karen Spiegel, a Corona resident. “Community engagement is important. I really question whether there was much community outreach.”
The 2,500-square-foot facility that’s intended to provide on-site marijuana sales, as well as a mobile delivery service, will be less than 1,000 feet from neighborhoods, and several residents complained about potential nuisance activity, including cannabis buyers parking on residential streets.
“I live a half block from this,” resident Dean Stamp said. “They’re going to park on our streets nearby.”
Another resident expressed concern about the complete lack of sidewalks on Via Santiago, where children sometimes cross going to and from houses.
The project representatives said they had attempted on several occasions to speak with residents in the area but were generally rebuffed.
Spiegel received assurances that additional public outreach will be initiated, and infrastructure improvements, including sidewalk construction, will be researched as part of the site development.
“The applicant is meeting all the requirements, and it’s already zoned commercial,” the chairwoman said. “I can’t find a reason to vote no for this even though I don’t like it.”
County Transportation & Land Management Agency documents indicate the retailer will be open seven days a week, during the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Three to four clerical employees and an armed security guard will be in the shop, officials said. Security additionally will be 24 hours, which Spiegel said impressed her.
Under the 10-year conditional use permit and development agreement, Coronita Helping Hands will be required to make a first-year public benefits payment to the county totaling $45,000. An ongoing annual payment of $50,000 will also be owed, increased 5% every year for inflation.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved the proposal in November and forwarded it to the board for final authorization.
The second public hearing, which barely lasted 10 minutes and elicited no public opposition, focused on the planned People’s First Choice cannabis operation in the 200 block of La Cadena, in the immediate vicinity of three other cannabis outlets approved by the board in the last year alongside Interstate 215 in Highgrove. The location has been specifically zoned for cannabis retail and manufacturing operations.
The storefront and mobile delivery service will be run out of a 4,400-square-foot former office building, according to TLMA.
Documents state the retailer will operate seven days a week, during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
On Feb. 3, the county Planning Commission unanimously approved the proposal and forwarded it to the board for final authorization.
Under the approved 10-year conditional use permit and development agreement, People’s First Choice will be required to make a first-year public benefits payment to the county totaling $84,700. An ongoing annual payment of $100,000 will be owed as well, helping cover the expense of additional law enforcement services in the area. That amount will be increased 5% annually for inflation.
The board previously authorized dispensaries and manufacturing facilities in Bermuda Dunes, Green Acres, Lakeland Village, Mead Valley and Temescal Valley.
The county’s 2018 Marijuana Comprehensive Regulatory Framework, codified under Ordinance No. 348, provides for steps that prospective businesses must take to be eligible for permits. Safety and health safeguards are part of the regulatory stipulations.
To date, the board has approved only indoor marijuana manufacturing and distribution outlets — not outdoor commercial cannabis grows — in unincorporated communities.
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