Deming City Council rejects Ruby St.

Deming City Council rejects Ruby St.

A former pastry shop located in a Deming neighborhood near St. Ann’s Catholic Church will not house a cannabis dispensary, as its buyers had hoped, after the city council rejected a special use permit application from representatives of the dispensary chain La Butte in Oregon.

La Mota CEO Rosa Cazares said the chain had a contract to buy the small bakery at 305 S. Ruby Street in hopes of opening a dispensary there. She said the corporation had also closed on another property in Deming.

The bakery had once been a family business operated by Elijio and Navora Piñon Uzueta, and later by their son, Richard Uzueta, who died in 2007.

While the property is zoned for commercial use, city staff and neighbors raised concerns about street parking in the area and the potential for increased traffic, as well as general safety concerns.

What settled the matter, however, was the presence of a small licensed day care center nearby, which seemed to take Cazares by surprise.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted in October not to recommend the special use permit, citing similar concerns, though meeting minutes indicate there were also objections to opening more cannabis dispensaries in the city.

Although the New Mexico Cannabis Regulation Act allows municipalities to set some limits on where licensed dispensaries can operate, businesses cannot be banned entirely since state legislators legalized cannabis for adult use last year. Legal dispensaries operate under licenses issued and regulated by the state Division of Cannabis Control.

The city first approved a special use permit for a cannabis business in 2016, unanimously granting Ultra Health permission to operate a medical dispensary at a downtown location that ultimately never opened. Currently, Ultra Health and the Canna Company operate dispensaries in the city.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Joe “Butter” Milo asked the applicants why they hadn’t researched a business location among the empty commercial spaces downtown. Cazares said they chose the Ruby Street location for its size and the opportunity to renovate the vacant building.

“We like to invest in rural areas and we really like to take buildings and invest a little more in our communities,” he told the council via video conference.

La Mota, taking its name from a Mexican slang term for cannabis, lists 24 dispensaries in Oregon on its website. Cazares said the company had also closed on a Spruce Street property for another retailer, but it was unclear whether or not that retailer would be under the La Mota brand.

According to state records, the Division of Cannabis Control approved two cannabis retail licenses for different addresses on W. Spruce Street, both west of downtown.

La Mota did not respond to a query from the Lighthouse.

Councilwoman Irma Rodriguez joined Milo in opposing the Ruby Street location, saying that despite the commercial zoning, she did not care about any businesses operating within a few feet of the residences. She said that she would prefer to see more commercial development downtown than within the neighborhoods.

Cazares asked if the council would react differently if a non-cannabis business had tried to open there, referring obliquely to the lingering prejudice against “marijuana,” as cannabis is still commonly known. Although legal in New Mexico, it is still a federal crime to possess or use cannabis.

Councilman Alex Valdespino, Deming’s former police chief, remained mostly silent during the discussion.

Deep in the discussion, city staff informed the council of a home day care service on S. Pearl Street, limited to about eight children, that had been licensed by the state and had been in operation since 2012. Staff said that the site was located within a 100-foot radius of the proposed dispensary, which would violate Deming’s cannabis ordinance that requires a 300-foot buffer zone between cannabis businesses and daycare centers or schools.

Cazares seemed taken aback by that information, saying, “I don’t see how we can move forward until we confirm that.”

A short time later, the council voted unanimously to deny the permit, a decision the company could appeal within 30 calendar days.

Mayor Benny Jasso, who had recused himself from the debate because the company had contacted him directly about the matter, suggested that the city could help them find a new location, saying that the dispensaries currently operating in Deming had adhered to all regulations. of the city and state. requirements in their current locations.

“Unfortunately, this (one) wasn’t going to work,” he said.

This story originally appeared in our November 18 issue.

Algernon D’Ammassa can be reached at [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *