A medical marijuana company’s request for a variance to a local zoning ordinance has drawn opposition from Peters Township Council.
On the recommendation of township manager Paul Lauer, council voted Monday to take the position that the variance is not warranted.
The contention is parking is inadequate at the site proposed by Organic Remedies Inc. of Carlisle for a marijuana dispensary, a small shopping plaza near the often heavily congested Route 19-West McMurray Road intersection.
“My concern with this has nothing to do with the use, because the use is provided for by the state of Pennsylvania,” Lauer said. “Our zoning ordinance needs to provide for it, and we have done so appropriately.”
The applicable provision limits the size of a dispensary to 3,000 square feet. The space in which Organic Remedies intends to operate, previously occupied by Rudy’s Subs and Valley Brook Beer Distributor, has a footprint of 4,150 square feet.
Eric Hauser, Organic Remedies president, applied to the Peters Township Zoning Hearing Board for a variance to allow for the extra area for his company’s purpose. The item is on the agenda for the board’s April 20 meeting.
“This space limitation is a requirement that is specific to Peters Township and is not a requirement of the state,” Hauser wrote in a letter accompanying the application.
The variance is being requested primarily because of social-distancing guidelines recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention “and enforced by the Pennsylvania government,” according to Hauser.
“Many of the patients we serve are immunocompromised, and the health of all our patients and employees is our top priority,” his letter states. “The additional space will allow us to provide our patients with their medications in a safe environment that adheres to the guidelines set in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
His company was established in 2018 and has three existing dispensaries in Pennsylvania.
“In compliance with the Medical Marijuana Act of 2016, this property will only dispense to approved and certified patients and/or caregivers,” Hauser wrote about the proposed dispensary in Peters. “All medical marijuana products will be dispensed within the facility, which is an indoor, enclosed, permanent and secure building, and will not be dually occupied by a grower/processor facility.”
The letter also asserts that “there will be no change to the character of the neighborhood, and the appeal represents the minimum variance to afford relief.”