Fresno council denies 4 cannabis proposals, including controversial Pinedale site

Local News

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – After an intense discussion at City Hall, the Fresno City Council denied several cannabis applications including one that was proposed near Pinedale Elementary School.

Last month, the city manager approved 21 cannabis dispensary locations across the city, the council appealed five of them. The final hearing on the permits was held Wednesday and the council approved one and denied the rest.

“I think it would be a giant slap in the face to support the construction, not a mile, not a quarter of a mile, but an eighth of a mile from the school,” said city councilmember Mike Karbassi regarding the Lemonnade/Cookie dispensary proposal near Minarets and Blackstone avenues.

The application had the highest score and was approved by the city manager last month, but Karbassi said the location was the key part in his decision-making.

“I am sensitive that this is the best application but it has the worst location for a dispensary,” said Karbassi.

The dispensary would have been just a couple blocks away from Pinedale Elementary, which is part of the Clovis Unified School District. Principal Debbie Bolls was emotional before the council as she shared concerns about student safety.

“To think that someone is gonna profit off of the children of Pindale?” she questioned. “I have a problem with that. We are the poorest neighborhood in Clovis Unified, where is the equity in that?”

Neighboring businesses and applicant Kacey Auston-Tibbetts spoke in support of the application and argued that the dispensary met several requirements including being more than 800 feet from a school, security and job growth.

“I am disappointed there,” said Auston-Tibbetts. “There was a lot of well-paid middle-class paying jobs we could have provided the community and unfortunately the council didn’t see it.”

The city council also denied the applications for 1426 N. Van Ness, 33 W. Olive and 120 E. Olive.

The council gave the green light to the old Bank of America building on Wishon Avenue, which is also owned by Auston-Tibbetts. She said as long as the necessary permits are granted, it will become a Lemonnade/Cookies brand dispensary.

“I am excited to be part of the community as I always have been and we will move forward as a team,” Auston-Tibbetts said.

The applicants of the Artist Tree location said they poured $60,000 into the application process and do not believe there is sufficient evidence to deny their application. The owners are considering taking legal action over the denial.

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