A request to remove distance restrictions for building near medical marijuana facilities was continued by the Mesquite City Council at its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 9 after the three councilors in attendance decided they needed more time to study the issue.

Councilmen Geno Withelder and Rich Green were absent from the meeting.

The vacant land at the corner of Falcon Ridge Parkway and Pioneer Boulevard has been in bankruptcy for several years and now the courts have ordered it to be sold to pay creditors. However, restrictions placed on adjacent property that houses medical marijuana facilities prohibits building certain types of establishments within 1,000 feet. That could severely limit property sales and future development of the parcels.

Richard Secrist, Development Services Director, presented the council with an ordinance amendment that would remove the distance requirements and allow schools, churches, pools and parks to build near marijuana facilities if they so desire.

A 10 acre parcel that’s part of the larger vacant land is zoned for multi-family, high density construction. A 52 acre parcel is zoned as hotel/tourist with the remaining 25 acres zoned as commercial/general.

Secrist asked a rhetorical question that if marijuana facilities have distance restrictions from certain facilities is the reverse true if those entities choose to build near marijuana businesses? The ordinance change would “create an exemption whereby community facilities could be within the 1,000 foot buffer if they knowingly choose to. They would have to sign disclosures,” Secrist said.

A second part of the ordinance amendment would change the method of measurement for the buffer areas for medical marijuana establishments (MME) and bring them in line with similar facilities like liquor stores or bars. Now, the measurement for MMEs is from property line to property line while others are measured from front door to front door.

Council members George Rapson, Kraig Hafen and Cindi Delaney readily agreed the measurement methods for MMEs should be in line with other establishments.

However, all three expressed concerns about changing distance requirements and creating problems in the future. Hafen said he wanted to “slow down and look at this some more. I don’t want this coming back on the city because we didn’t take our time.”

Rapson said “this could potentially open a can of worms. How do you transmit the information about the proximity of marijuana facilities to families who might bring their kids to a childcare facility? That gets into disclosure issues. There’s also an issue with property rights of potential buyers of the land. This is not anything that Deep Roots Medical marijuana facility asked for. They don’t have a dog in this fight.”

Delaney agreed and asked for a continuance of the proposal until the first meeting in October. The vote on that motion passed 3-0.

The council also continued until their next meeting a proposal by City Attorney Bob Sweetin to begin exploration of adopting a city charter. It’s an idea that has been presented several times in past years, most recently in 2008 when it went nowhere.

Councilors unanimously passed an ordinance that amends city codes governing primary elections for council and mayor. The action stems from confusion and controversy created from the June 14 primary election for three council seats. The change requires that a majority of ‘voters’ rather than ‘votes’ be used to determine whether a candidate wins outright in a primary election.

A request by Mesquite Police Department Chief Troy Tanner for an emergency hire for a full time police officer was also approved unanimously.