Thomas Lovell Paula Sturgeon

Scottsdale resident Thomas Lovell, a southern Scottsdale resident with cancer who supported the approval of the Sunday Goods dispensary(Left). Scottsdale resident Paula Sturgeon asked the Planning Commission to recommend approval of the Sunday Goods dispensary(Right).

Downtown Scottsdale’s first medical marijuana dispensary is one step closer to becoming a reality after the Planning Commission voted 6-1 to recommend its approval.

The dispensary from Scottsdale-based Sunday Goods would go on the site of the Club Tattoo building at 5th Avenue and Winfield Scott Plaza.

If approved by city council, the building would be renovated and feature an upscale style “commensurate with the quality of the location” said zoning attorney Jason Morris, who represented Sunday Goods before the commission.

Morris said Sunday Goods is working with a designer that has designed dispensaries located in Beverly Hills, California, and Aspen, Colorado.

Non-marijuana-based holistic items would also be sold on site. No growing or cultivating of marijuana would be performed on site.

A group of 15 owners with properties near the proposed site submitted a petition opposing the project. They included the owners of a building that houses a preschool just 250 feet away.

The Scottsdale City Council approved amendments to city ordinance in 2016 that increased the separation between dispensaries and schools, residential uses, churches and public parks to 1,500 feet.

However, McCartney K. Hart, owner of the Perform to Learn preschool, sent a letter to city staff in September 2018 stating she supported the dispensary and the preschool “will cease operations prior to, or contemporaneous with” the dispensary’s permit application.

A lawyer for the property owner said they had not been informed the preschool was moving.

 “It is unclear as to why the property owner and preschool owner (tenant) are not consistent,” said Scottsdale Senior Planner Bryan Cluff. “Either way, stipulation number one on (the case) does not allow the medical marijuana use to operate until the site is compliant with all separation requirements.”

City staff said that even with council approval, the dispensary will not be allowed to open until it complies with separation requirements.

The Sunday Goods site also neighbors a Christian Science Reading Room, but the company is in the process of purchasing that property, Cluff said.

Some area property owners argued the dispensary would lower their property values or negatively affect their businesses.

David Dodge owns CodaKid, a kids coding academy located across the street from the proposed dispensary, said kids ages 6 to 15 come to his business and parents “are not happy at all” about a dispensary opening up nearby.

The proposed dispensary has its fair share of supporters, too, though.

Several residents spoke in favor of the project at the meeting and city staff received a petition with about 430 signatures in support of the dispensary – though signatures came from residents of Scottsdale and other Valley cities.

Many of the supporters said the dispensary will address a problem of access in southern Scottsdale, where many residents have to travel to other cities to obtain medical marijuana.

Resident Thomas Lovell said he is currently undergoing treatment for cancer and has to drive 30 minutes to a dispensary.

“That’s a nuisance when you’re not feeling well,” Lovell said.

Currently, there is only one medical marijuana dispensary in the Community Health Analysis Areas, or CHAA, that includes southern Scottsdale. The Arizona Department of Health Services uses CHAAs to determine where dispensaries can be located.

The only southern Scottsdale dispensary is Monarch Wellness Center east of McCormick Ranch.

Card holders in downtown Scottsdale and areas further south have to commute at least six miles to Monarch Wellness or other dispensaries in Phoenix and Tempe to access medicinal cannabis.

ADHS issued a second dispensary license in 2017 for the southern Scottsdale CHAA to Sunday Goods but the operator had been unable to find a location that adhered to all of the city’s zoning and separation requirements.

The Sunday Goods conditional use permit and zoning cases are scheduled to go before council on Oct. 1.