Friday, June 22, 2018
Business

Hillsborough creates 750-foot buffer to limit medical marijuana centers

TAMPA

Hillsborough County recently approved a slew of new rules for where medical marijuana dispensaries can operate.

One rule that didn't make the cut was a limit on the number of dispensaries that can operate within county limits.

But don't expect a marijuana business to open on every street corner just because there is no cap on their number.

For starters, these rules only apply to unincorporated Hillsborough, not the three cities within county boundaries. Tampa is working on its own set of regulations and currently has a moratorium in place to prevent any new businesses for now.

Second, Hillsborough's new ordinance prohibits these dispensaries from opening within 750 feet from a slew of places like schools and bars. The list of establishments with this buffer includes:

•Churches/synagogues, schools, child care centers, public libraries, community recreational facilities and parks

•Residentially zoned parcels

•Establishments that sell beer, wine and liquor for consumption on or off the premises.

That knocks out a big chunk of the county and basically pushes these businesses to the outskirts of population centers. The regulations also say marijuana businesses cannot operate within 750 feet of each other, so there won't be a Weed District forming in Hillsborough any time soon.

Finally, the dispensaries can only open in certain commercial and manufacturing zones and few of these aren't disqualified by the aforementioned 750-foot buffer rules.

There are small pockets of these zones scattered throughout the county but they're mostly concentrated in the unincorporated area immediately north of Tampa International Airport, some parts of South Shore, just east of Orient Road in Tampa and south of Temple Terrace.

It's possible some of these businesses won't consider it profitable to set up shop so far from where people live, which could drive down the number of applicants for licenses.

It's worth noting, too, that lawmakers in Tallahassee can override all of this if they approve their own land use rules for medical marijuana centers. State law supersedes county ordinances.

A draft of the county ordinance originally restricted medical marijuana licenses to one for every 67,222 unincorporated residents. That would amount to 13, or 11 new ones considering two dispensaries already are open — Trulieve on North Dale Mabry Highway and Surterra on East Fowler.

Commissioners narrowly voted 4-3 to remove that restriction so it's possible that more than 13 dispensaries will soon be operating in Hillsborough County, especially if the Legislature pushes through a large-scale expansion of medical marijuana in response to the approval of Amendment 2.

Contact Steve Contorno at [email protected] or (813) 326-3433. Follow @scontorno.

By Steve Contorno

Times Staff Writer

TAMPA — Hillsborough County recently approved a slew of new rules for where medical marijuana dispensaries can operate.

One rule that didn't make the cut was a limit on the number of dispensaries that can operate within county limits.

But don't expect a marijuana business to open on every street corner just because there is no cap on their number.

For starters, these rules only apply to unincorporated Hillsborough, not the three cities within county boundaries. Tampa is working on its own set of regulations and currently has a moratorium in place to prevent any new businesses for now.

Second, Hillsborough's new ordinance prohibits these dispensaries from opening within 750 feet from a slew of places like schools and bars. The list of establishments with this buffer includes:

•Churches/synagogues, schools, child care centers, public libraries, community recreational facilities and parks

•Residentially zoned parcels

•Establishments that sells beer, wine and liquor for consumption on or off the premises.

That knocks out a big chunk of the county and basically pushes these businesses to the outskirts of population centers. The regulations also say marijuana businesses cannot operate within 750 feet of each other, so there won't be a Weed District forming in Hillsborough any time soon.

Finally, the dispensaries can only open in certain commercial and manufacturing zones and few of these aren't disqualified by the aforementioned 750-foot buffer rules.

There are small pockets of these zones scattered throughout the county but they're mostly concentrated in the unincorporated area immediately north of Tampa International Airport, some parts of South Shore, just east of Orient Road in Tampa and south of Temple Terrace.

It's possible some of these businesses won't consider it profitable to set up shop so far from where people live, which could drive down the number of applicants for licenses.

It's worth noting, too, that lawmakers in Tallahassee can override all of this if they approve their own land use rules for medical marijuana centers. State law supersedes county ordinances.

A draft of the county ordinance originally restricted medical marijuana licenses to one for every 67,222 unincorporated residents. That would amount to 13, or 11 new ones considering two dispensaries already are open — Trulieve on North Dale Mabry Highway and Surterra on East Fowler.

Commissioners narrowly voted 4-3 to remove that restriction so it's possible that more than 13 dispensaries will soon be operating in Hillsborough County, especially if the Legislature pushes through a large-scale expansion of medical marijuana in response to the approval of Amendment 2.

Contact Steve Contorno at [email protected] or (813) 326-3433. Follow @scontorno.

Comments
Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

The biggest hospitals in Houston had a problem.To earn a prized institutional certification, they needed more nurses with bachelor of science degrees in nursing.But local colleges were more focused on turning out nurses with two-year degrees who, to ...
Published: 06/22/18
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA — The days ahead were supposed to be bright.For weeks, the future of health care tech company CareSync had been thrown into question as founder and CEO and founder Travis Bond unexpectedly departed, kicking off multiple rounds of layoffs. But t...
Published: 06/22/18
Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Here’s an intriguing set of facts: Coal produces the same percentage of the world’s electricity as 20 years ago. Oil and gas remain about level, too.Same for nonfossil fuel sources. In other words, the massive push towards renewables over the past co...
Published: 06/22/18
Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

A cancer lurks within Florida’s otherwise rosy job numbers, one that’s been called a quiet catastrophe and an intractable time bomb.Too many men between the ages of 25 and 54 have stopped working.Economists call those the prime-age years. Incomes gen...
Published: 06/22/18
Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

ST. PETERSBURG — The 16th annual St. Pete Pride Parade is getting ready to march along the downtown waterfront the second straight year. But many hope to move past the division caused last year when the parade was uprooted from its original hom...
Published: 06/22/18
For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

ST. PETERSBURG — For sale: a 104-year-old elementary school with restaurant and wine shop. It even has a title company where you can close the deal.Less than a year after completing a major renovation of the historic North Ward school, developer Jona...
Published: 06/22/18
Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

TAMPA — When the 2008 financial crash brought down the nation’s housing market, hundreds of home builders went out of business. Among them was Sharon McSwain Homes in Atlanta, forced to liquidate in 2009.But just as developers like to develop, builde...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

TAMPA — Two of the city’s hottest developers — the companies behind Ulele and the Armature Works — are heading to court over control of an old city building that sits between the hit eateries. Both want to redevelop the city&...
Published: 06/21/18
Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Associated PressFlorida’s busiest airport is becoming the first in the nation to require a face scan of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights, including U.S. citizens, according to officials there. The expected announcement T...
Published: 06/21/18
Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Hours after Tesla had sued its former employee on charges he had stolen company secrets, and days after chief Elon Musk had called him a saboteur, the Silicon Valley automaker made a startling claim. The company had received a call from a friend of t...
Published: 06/21/18