Farmersville City Council votes 4-1 in favor of one cannabis dispensary business to locate in town
By Paul Myers
FARMERSVILLE – Farmersville City Council was finally done waiting for cultivators to grow some green in town, so they decided to open the city to cannabis dispensaries.
The Farmersville City Council voted 4-1 at their Sept. 24 meeting, to approve a zoning change where cannabis dispensaries could locate in the future. Only councilman Leonel Benavides voted against the change.
Council members and staff decided to keep the new light industrial zone close to Highway 198, but closer to the western boundary of town. According to city manager Jennifer Gomez said the zone will be located on Nobel and west of Farmersville boulevard.
According to councilman Greg Gomez any incoming business would have a few hurdles. Because that area of town is underdeveloped whoever decides to locate there will have to pay for the infrastructure that most other businesses would already have. Gomez added though that some businesses have already started kicking Farmersville’s tires, which is good for Gomez as most of Tulare County’s commercial cannabis industry has opted to locate in Woodlake.
“There have been people looking into [infrastructure]. Someone would have to come in and put roads and utilities and all of that so that is why it has been so hard to get someone to come in and take a look at us. Unlike Woodlake where they have old packing houses, that’s not the case in Farmersville, they have to build from the ground up,” Gomez said.
Cultivation had been Farmersville’s original intent when they decided to allow commercial cannabis in the city. However, even at a $7 per square-foot tax, cultivators are not knocking on the door to move in. And without cultivators asking to locate to Farmersville, the City has not had the opportunity to help move plans along. According to Councilman Gomez, he felt as if it was best to change strategies and use their best asset: geography. With Farmersville so close to the County’s second largest thoroughfare, Highway 198, dispensaries might be in an advantageous position for travelers and residents.
“I think we are better situated for retail…I knew cultivation would be an issue because of where we are with land available and there not being infrastructure available I knew that was going to be an issue,” Gomez said. “Having that freeway access makes it really convenient and an incentive for someone to come in and build.”
The application period for dispensary businesses is Nov. 30. Jennifer Gomez said she wants to make sure businesses have enough time to get their applications in order, and there are currently no pending applications. But she did say at least two people have contacted the City for a zoning verification letter that confirms the parcel they are interested in is allowed for a dispensary.
Farmersville’s overall process for applicants is different from Woodlake’s. Where Woodlake processes most, if not all, of their applications in house Farmersville contracts with a company title HDL. According to Jennifer Gomez she accepts the applications and ensures all of the necessary documentation is there. HDL vets the application before they go on for an interview with the City.
Councilman Gomez says the shift from allowing strictly cultivators to now dispensaries has something to do with the amount of tax revenue the City stands to gain.
“We’ve seen other cities and how it benefits them so I think that has had a lot to do with it. We haven’t had anyone taking advantage of the process outside of cultivation….lets see what retail gets us,” Gomez said.
Farmersville’s city manager says they have based the potential revenue off of the $46,000 Woodlake gathered from their one dispensary in downtown, Valley Pure. Whether the potential revenue is there or not is anyone’s guess, but their 5% of gross receipts tax is the same.
The Farmersville City Council decided on only one dispensary license. Councilman Gomez says that might change in the future but for now only one dispensary will be allowed to operate in town.