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Marijuana dispensary proposed for Rancho Bernardo

Opponents say it would be too close to kids
Posted at 12:13 PM, Aug 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 15:55:39-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The Rancho Bernardo area could be getting its first legal marijuana dispensary.

Will Senn, the President and Founder of URBN Leaf, has plans to open a dispensary in a strip mall at 16375 Bernardo Center Drive, just east of the 15 Freeway.

A Conditional Use Permit filed with the city says it will be a 6,647 square foot business, the first of its kind in City Council District 5.

"There's a big demand, for sure," says Senn. His company owns two other URBN Leaf stores in San Diego County. He says people from the Rancho Bernardo area drive to his other locations frequently. He also says they receive delivery requests to the neighborhood.

"We're excited about the opportunity, we think the community does need it," says Senn.

Community members disagree. They say it's the wrong place for a dispensary.

City law allows just four dispensaries per City Council District. Right now there are none in District 5, which includes Rancho Bernardo, Scripps Ranch, Carmel Mountain, Rancho Penasquitos, Torrey Highlands and San Pasqual.

There are already 23 other marijuana dispensariesoperating throughout San Diego.

Senn's permit application is the only one on file with the city for District 5.

The city's rules governing the placement of dispensaries say they must be at least, "1,000 feet from resource and population-based city parks, churches, child care centers, playgrounds, libraries owned and operated by the City of San Diego, minor-oriented facilities, residential care facilities, and schools."

Opponents say the new dispensary would be within 1,000 feet of the Hope United Lutheran Church on Bernardo Center Drive. They also say two other storefronts within the strip mall qualify as "minor-oriented facilities," the Kumon Math and Reading Center, and the Little Artists studio.

Senn says that's not the case.

"We're 1,000 feet away from the church," he says. "And there is some language in other projects that have been approved by the planning commission that is consistent with our project."

Opponents will have their chance to voice their concerns Tuesday night at the Rancho Bernardo Development Review Committee Meeting. It will be held at 6 pm at the Rancho Bernardo Library on 17110 Bernardo Center Drive.

Senn says he plans to listen to all of the comments and take the community's concerns to heart. But, he adds that his company's track record of running other dispensaries makes them good partners who know how to operate legally.

"We like to tread lightly and be delicate when we enter a new market," says Senn. "But we do have experience. We've been doing this for a long time. And there's no better company prepared to enter a market like Rancho Bernardo than Urbn Leaf."