(SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA) — Patients vs. Developers. State vs. City. Those are the fault lines that have developed over a proposed medical marijuana dispensary in downtown Scottsdale.
What once seemed a foregone conclusion after a favorable Planning Commission vote, strong support in public opinion surveys and provisions in state law, has now been jeopardized by several downtown property owners, including out-of-state ones, that have filed a dubious “legal protest” against the proposed Sunday Goods dispensary. A legal protest forces the City Council to pass measures by five votes instead of four.
In various media reports — including in the Arizona Republic, Scottsdale Progress and Scottsdale Independent — opponents have said the use is inappropriate for the area and would impede their desire to build a new high-rise development, presumably anchored by apartments, on the city block where Sunday Goods would be located.
As proposed Sunday Goods would remodel an existing tattoo parlor with its nicely designed dispensary keeping it as one story.
“The last thing we need in Scottsdale is for yet more high-rise apartments and sin lectures from places like the Social Tap and Giligin’s bars. Social Tap is an often empty bar owned by someone from out of state and Giligin’s has long been known as a bar appealing to the lowest common denominator,” said community leader Paula Sturgeon. She is the Chairperson of the new political action committee H.I.G.H.H., which stands for “Halting Inappropriate Growth, Heights & Hypocrisy”. Giligin’s social media posts are often sexually explicit, and one post even makes light of rape and sexual assault.
Sturgeon currently serves as the Co-Chairperson of “For The Best Scottsdale,” the group that has organized a diverse coalition to support new infrastructure for Scottsdale on the November 5th ballot.
Community activist Sandy Schenkat has agreed to serve as co-chair of H.I.G.H.H. with Sturgeon.
Both Sturgeon and Schenkat said it is also disturbing that the opposition group’s lead consultant once lobbied for southern Scottsdale strip clubs. That is offensive to them as women. They also cited his work as a developer that attempted to put a gondola ride and massive project adjacent to the Grand Canyon that was rejected by the Navajo Nation.
“No one needs lessons on character from this group,” Sturgeon and Schenkat said.
The group has hired Petition Partners, Arizona’s leading petition gathering company, to collect signatures against any redevelopment of the city block targeted by the developers which does not include Sunday Goods low-scale design.
Sturgeon said the notion that redevelopment couldn’t occur around a two-story project like Sunday Goods is preposterous. Scottsdale has four dispensaries in the north that haven’t impeded development or redevelopment an iota. According to the Scottsdale Police Department they have also acted responsibly. Sturgeon also noted that the closest dispensary to the proposed Sunday Goods location has been lobbying against it, pointing to the “hypocrisy” part of the group’s name.
Sunday Goods is a Scottsdale-based company with its corporate headquarters only a short distance from the proposed location on the east side of the Galleria Corporate Center.
The city has received substantially more public input in favor of the proposal than not.
The issue has been percolating for several years after the Arizona Department of Health Services awarded a new license for the Southern Scottsdale Community Health Assessment Area (CHAA). It deemed the area to be one of the most underserved in the state. Sunday Goods won a competitive selection process for the license. But due to Scottsdale’s onerous zoning regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries it has taken several years to identify and gain control of qualifying properties. By law, cities cannot legislate medical marijuana out of existence.
“Scottsdale is on the precipice of opening itself up to a lawsuit not only from Sunday Goods but from patients whose rights are being denied by Scottsdale’s approach. Why in the world some want to ignore the public input to date and public opinion on this issue in favor of high-rise development for a predominantly out of state property ownership group is beyond me,” Sturgeon said.