HARTFORD — The fate of the lone application for a marijuana facility in Hartford came down to just a few feet.
The Hartford City Commission voted 5-2 Monday night to deny the application from Med+Leaf for a marijuana provisioning center at 11 W. Main St., based on how close it is to a church at 9 W. Shepard St.
Commissioners John Miller, Terry Tibbs, Tom Burleson, Frank Dockter and Mayor Rick Hall voted against the application, while Commissioners Hellen Sullivan and Dennis Goss were in favor.
“We developed an ordinance. We talked about it painstakenly for many months and my job as an elected official is to uphold our ordinances, codes and laws. That’s why I made a motion to deny it,” Miller said. “I do advocate for this, and I’m not against what you guys are doing as long as it’s within the confines of our ordinance and this does not meet those confines.”
It was originally believed the church was more than 500 feet away from 11 W. Main St., then a city attorney ruled it was 392 feet away, measuring from the property line.
The city’s medical marijuana facility ordinance simply states a facility must be 500 feet from a church or place of worship. But Miller said in another part of the ordinance regarding the application process, that the ordinance talks about including a map measuring from property line.
Doug Von Koenig, an investor in Med+Leaf, said that they asked the city to clarify the way to measure before submitting the application and they were never told they should measure from the property line.
Goss said the ordinance is vague regarding where to measure from. Miller said it is also vague in that it doesn’t say who is responsible for measuring.
Alex Von Koenig, with Med+Leaf, asked the commissioners Monday to consider the location of the dispensary, because the other property they own and will now consider, 309 W. Main St., is very close to Ely Park. He said the police chief has recommended that the facility be at 11 W. Main St. because of the park, and that the city’s planning commission made a recommendation to approve it.
Tim Kling, chairman of the planning and zoning commission, said the different interpretations of the measurement wouldn’t have changed the planning commission’s decision because they were making a decision on what was best for Hartford.
Alex Von Koenig argued at last month’s meeting that the church was not operational, therefore it should not count against the application. However, a representative from the church said at Monday’s meeting that the church is in use, and that activities just were not held at the church in January because of the weather.
Med+Leaf says it will submit a new application for the 309 W. Main St. site.
“We still plan on working very closely with the city of Hartford and coming to a resolution so we can open this business here,” Alex Von Koenig said.
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