Pot still stirring in Chadds Ford

The Chadds Ford Planning Commission finalized a medical marijuana dispensary ordinance in April but almost had to revisit the measure during its May 12 meeting. And the commission is still working on a marijuana grower/processor ordinance that may or may not be finished in June. Confusion remains within that prosed ordinance.

Commission Chairman Craig Huffman said during the May meeting that someone — not identified by name — who wants to open a dispensary on Route 202 at Oakland Road had concerns about the ordinance the commission recommended for adoption. That person expressed concerns to the township Ordinance Committee, which prompted a memorandum suggesting the ordinance go back to the commission for further consideration. Ultimately, commission members voted against reopening that part of the proceedings.

(Image from The Motley Fool)

In the interim, the recommended ordinance had been sent to the Delaware County Planning Department for its review and will still come back to the township for a hearing before it can be adopted.

Because medical cannabis is legal in Pennsylvania, the township needs to have provisions in its zoning code for such businesses to control where they may be located and control other aspects of their operation, such as security and hours of operation. Without that type of ordinance, the business could open pretty much wherever and however it wanted to.

The ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission limits dispensaries to the B and B-1 Business Districts and requires they be at least 200 feet away from a residential property. The dispensary would also need perimeter privacy fencing.

One point of contention is that the ordinance prohibits drive-through service at dispensaries while the unnamed applicant wants them.

In discussing the memo with the suggestion that the commission reopens deliberation, Huffman said there was no requirement for the commission to do anything further on that specific ordinance. He added that commission members Timotha Trigg and Kathleen Goodier had done exemplary work researching ordinances from other municipalities to come up with one that would work for Chadds Ford Township.

"The fact that this was put on the agenda for this evening, does not in any way require, nor should there be an implication that it is required, that we in any way modify, correct, or change the ordinance that this Planning Commission recommended to the supervisors," Huffman said.

He added that the commission is guided by the law and the Constitution to do what is best for the township. But he also added that the supervisors have the right to change elements of the recommended ordinance.

A 20-minute discussion followed, with members voting to keep the ordinance as is, with no reconsideration. Later in the meeting, the conversation turned to an ordinance involving marijuana growing and processing facilities.

More discussion on that ordinance is needed, but the updated code would limit growing and processing facilities to the PBC-1 Zoning District as it stands so far. According to the zoning map, there are currently two areas along Route 202 designated as PBC-1. They are Painters Crossing shopping center and the David Dodge location.

There needs to be further discussion on fencing the growing/processing facilities. There was confusion on how they should be fenced, whether there should be a chain-link fence, a privacy fence or both. One of the provisions in the proposed ordinance says, "From any public-right-of-way, there shall be no visible exterior evidence of any medical marijuana growing or processing facility."

Yet, another provision says the facilities "shall be c0mpletely surrounded by an eight-foot-high chain-link fence, or any other type of open link fencing that allows the building to be seen from outside the fence."

“We need to look at that,” Huffman said.

The facilities shall be stand-alone buildings and no closer than 1,000 feet from any school — public, private, or parochial — a daycare center, place of worship, playground, park, or any business whose primary clientele are minors. And no two such facilities may be within 3,000 feet on one another. Additionally, no grow/processing facility shall be in the same location as a dispensary.

Following a 20-minute meandering discussion, the topic was tabled until the June meeting.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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