ONTARIO — Numerous letters were recently sent out to property owners within 300 feet of five sites that have been approved by the City of Ontario for recreational marijuana retailers. The letters inform owners that they have an opportunity to appeal the approved locations — however, an appeal comes at a price tag of $240.
Community Development Director Dan Cummings said however, there is no cost to come talk to him — especially if someone believes there has been an error. Cummings has an open door policy.
“If I miss something, I’ll correct it. That’s the purpose. … Tell me what’s wrong and we’ll fix it if there’s an issue,” he said.
The cost to mail the letters was covered through each conditional use permit fee, a $120 portion of which is retained for mailing.
“The applicant pays for the mailings, in a sense the funds for the mailers come from the CUP fees,” Cummings said.
The City of Ontario began reviewing applications for potential marijuana retailers who had submitted conditional use permits on Jan. 2, processing first those applications for proprietors who already had submitted preliminary applications in November of 2018. The preliminary applications were the result of proprietors setting up 24/7 outside the Community Development Center ahead of the General Election when voters overturned the city’s ban on recreational marijuana dispensaries.
Cummings said of the 15 individuals who submitted preliminary applications in November, 12 have submitted Conditional Use Permits.
There were three that did not submit, Cummings said, with two of those still considering it, and getting things together to file. Another individual decided the development costs were probably too high as the sites were outside city limits, and proprietors were trying to figure out if it was cost-effective to follow through.
No new conditional use permits have been submitted.
Filing an appeal
“Citizens have the right to appeal a land use appeal decision,” Cummings said. “This appeal [process] is not if community members disagree with a decision about a site, rather it is appealing for instance: the wording of a variance that doesn’t meet minimum requirements.”
Those who received the letter have a 12-day period to file an appeal.
Citizens must first fill out an appeal, and get it in front of the planning commission.
The same cost to file an appeal applies to everybody, Cummings said. As far as planning, the fees are the same $240.
If Cummings is following the laws, there’s nothing to appeal. A person has the right to have an opinion, however, unless for example Cummings did not follow procedure, the CUPS will not be denied. Instead, an appeal would simply start the process over.
“If there’s an appeal, it delays the projects. If I forgot something, it won’t make the site not work, it will just halt the process for awhile.” Cummings said.
He added that he has been working to ensure developments meet all city codes.
The planning commission, or council could overrule only if Cummings did something that did not follow code. He said he has extensive amounts of paperwork, and he has been extremely cautious when creating ordinances.
“I’m being as careful as I can be, so as not to give delays. Land use action takes long enough as it is,” Cummings said.