South Carson City dispensary clears hurdle

Carson City resident Jeannie White at the July 28 planning commission meeting about marijuana dispensaries.

Carson City resident Jeannie White at the July 28 planning commission meeting about marijuana dispensaries.
Photo by Scott Neuffer.

Carson City planning commissioners approved a special use permit for a recreational marijuana retail store and potential restaurant in south Carson but not without adding some protection for a neighboring homeowner.
On Wednesday, commissioners voted 6-1 to approve Qualcan’s “Jade” dispensary but conditioned the developer limit a proposed drive-through to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for operational hours unless the neighboring residential use changes in the future. Furthermore, the developer is required to build an 8-foot-tall masonry wall on the west side of the property to mitigate effects from the dispensary on Jeannie White and Bruce Sanders, whose Bennett Avenue home sits near the project. The developer also volunteered to install a security gate on the neighbor’s private property to help ensure their driveway is not accessed by dispensary customers.
Located at 5100 S. Carson St., at the intersection of highways 50 and 395, the project calls for a 7,978-square-foot building to house the marijuana store and vacant space for a potential restaurant. One of the biggest concerns for permitting was traffic impact.
“The Qualcan proposal has the potential to increase traffic at this location to 1,240 cars a day,” Tasha Couste, grandchild to the homeowners, wrote in a letter to the commission, referring to a May 2022 traffic study conducted by Lochsa Engineering. “This is the estimate for both the dispensary and the restaurant. This increase in traffic will directly impact the only access road the White/Sanders have to their property which dead ends at their driveway. Any unintended back up or overflow may impede entry to their residence and possibly delay emergency vehicle access.”
Planning commissioners agreed, in part, and requested “dead end” signage be posted in appropriate places so future dispensary customers know how to exit.
White, 89, spoke out against the drive-through altogether.
“It would make our lives a living hell,” she said.
The White/Sanders’ home sits on property zoned general commercial, but they’ve lived there for decades.
Commissioner Richard Perry said the city should be careful restricting traffic on Bennett Avenue because surrounding general-commercial property may be developed in the future.
Community Development Director Hope Sullivan emphasized the applicant installing a security gate on the White/Sanders’ property is “voluntary.” She was concerned conditioning applicants to make improvements on neighboring private property would set a problematic precedent.
Other conditions of approval included in the city staff report require Qualcan to make multiple street improvements and to prohibit on-site marijuana consumption.
Planning Commissioner Nathaniel Killgore was the lone vote against the special use permit. Early in the hearing, he said the Whites should get everything they request to mitigate the impacts of the dispensary. After his no vote, he said he wouldn’t want a dispensary that close to his own home and wouldn’t push it on anyone else.
The project comes after a lengthy political process to expand the number of recreational marijuana shops allowed in Carson City. On Sept. 15, the Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance changing that number from two to four in accordance with state law.
In other action:
The commission unanimously approved an ordinance allowing breweries and tasting rooms in the tourist commercial zoning district.
The request came from Mark Begich, owner of Carson Hot Springs and landlord to the popular Shoe Tree Brewing and Sassafras Eclectic Food Joint. The Appeal has confirmed that Shoe Tree is looking to expand on a neighboring parcel, zoned tourist commercial, in order to double beer production and offer a new tasting room.
Sullivan explained that breweries have traditionally been an industrial use but have evolved into tourist attractions.
“Breweries and tasting rooms can be an interesting complement to tourist resources,” she said.
Planning Commissioner Paul Esswein raised concerns the change would allow massive industrial breweries to take advantage of the tourist commercial niche. Other commissioners agreed and made the zoning change a “conditional use,” meaning any project would need to be reviewed in the design process.
The proposed amendment to code will now go to the Board of Supervisors.

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