Wildomar City Council on Wednesday, June 10, passed through a city ordinance adopting a resolution that would permit commercial cannabis retailers within certain commercial zones in the city. City council meetings are currently being conducted online due to the coronavirus outbreak. Valley News/Courtesy photo/screenshot

Jeff Pack
Staff Writer

In a sometimes contentious Wildomar City Council meeting on Wednesday, June 10, the council ultimately passed through a city ordinance adopting a resolution that would permit commercial cannabis retailers within certain commercial zones in the city. 

The 3-2 decision, which included yes votes from Mayor Dustin Nigg and councilmembers Joseph Morabito and Ben Benoit and no votes from Mayor Pro Tem Bridgett Moore and councilmember Marsha Swanson, effectively puts an end to a process that started back in mid-2019. 

The council first directed staff to research the idea of a cannabis order in the city on May 8, 2019, and on June 12, 2019, an ad-hoc subcommittee was formed led by Mayor Nigg and Mayor Pro-Tem Moore. 

Two weeks later, the council approved the spending of $50,000 to prepare the amendment for land use, zoning, and licensing procedures and regulations. 

As presented by city planning director Matthew Bassi during the council’s May 28 special meeting, the amendment prohibits cannabis consumption and alcohol or tobacco sales on the premises. It also places security requirements on the businesses, including the mandatory notification of law enforcement in the instance of suspected theft. 

Cannabis-related businesses may also only do business with other cannabis businesses. 

The amendment as proposed restricts those businesses to be limited to locations within the city’s two commercial zones and placed restrictions on where the businesses could be located, not within 600 feet of public or private schools, commercial daycare centers, youth centers, or parks. Later in the evening, the council added that the businesses could not be located within 150-feet of a residential unit. 

The businesses will also be subjected to unannounced inspections. 

The council also approved the fees for local license applications which is $20,000, another $20,000 for a CUP deposit, and a developmental agreement deposit of $12,000. 

After the license is approved, a regulatory, non-refundable fee of more than $70,000 is due. After two years, an initial deposit fee of $10,000 is required. 

Due to the council’s action on Wednesday, the city could begin taking applications beginning July 10.

Commercial cannabis retailers will be permitted in the C-1/C-P and C-P-S commercial zones subject to the approval of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and Development Agreement by the city’s planning commission and city council. 

Cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and testing laboratories will be permitted in our I-P and M-SC industrial zones also subject approval.

Editor’s note: For more coverage of the Wildomar City Council meeting on Wednesday, June 10, look for the story in the print edition of Valley News on Friday, June 19. 

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.