A business license for a medical marijuana establishment was approved Wednesday after debate during the Reno City Council meeting about whether the dispensary’s West Plumb Lane location was within realm of state law.
State statutes require medical marijuana establishments be at least 1,000 feet from a school and at least 300 feet from a community facility.
LivFree Wellness Reno LLC, 100 West Plumb Lane, would be 150 to 200 feet from Conservatory of Movement, a dance studio across the street for children and adults at 73 West Plumb Lane. LivFree plans to open early September in the 6,000-square foot, 23-year-old building that formerly housed Blockbuster Video.
Conservatory of Movement, which opposed LivFree’s license at that location, had an expired city business license when LivFree applied for its license, prompting zoning approval for the dispensary.
“If you’re not licensed, we don’t know you’re there,” Councilwoman Jenny Breckhus said to Conservatory of Movement representatives. “Our fire department doesn’t know you’re there, our building department doesn’t know you’re there…”
Studio owner Barbara Land told council members several parents who have children enrolled in dance classes would withdraw them if LivFree opened. Additionally, she said economically-challenged children take dance classes for free and they’d be denied an opportunity to receive lessons if the studio has to close. Relocating is too costly, she said.
Conservatory of Movement alleged it didn’t get business license renewal notices in the mail from the city, but Councilman Paul McKenzie said that’s not an excuse to let a license lapse and that business owners should know when their licensing fees are due.
“A business license has an expiration date on it and it’s supposed to be posted in a prominent place in the business,” McKenzie said.
Reno sought clarification from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the state Medical Marijuana Program. The dance studio would be considered a community facility but it wasn’t authorized to operate locally at the time LivFree submitted its application and its irrelevant that the studio was authorized to operate retroactively, the state indicated.
Council members indicated there was no reason not to authorize a license to LivFree, which had followed local and state laws.
“How much have you invested in this location?” McKenzie asked LivFree representatives.
“Two million dollars,” replied Timothy Harris, LivFree chief financial officer.
“Would you be willing to reimburse them $2 million?” McKenzie asked Conservatory of Movement representatives. “They have no reason to believe they weren’t going to get approval before they made this investment.”
After the hearing, Land said she always renewed a state license and displayed it but didn’t think about the city license because she hadn’t received a renewal notice.
Here’s a timeline:
- The LivFree received its zoning verification letter in August 2014 and submitted a business license application to the city May 2.
- The Conservatory of Movement dance studio’s city business license expired in January 2011 and renewal fees weren’t retroactively paid until June 10. A state business license has always been paid, the studio says.
- The dance studio indicated its license was active during the 5 1/2-year gap but unpaid because it didn’t get a renewal notice, citing the U.S. Postal Service’s requested split on the address from 75 W. Plumb Lane to 73 W. Plumb Lane. The studio reportedly didn’t get a bill and city didn’t require the studio pay late fees.
- On June 14, city business relations manager Michael Chaump wrote a memo to council members that outlined the dance studio’s license history, which showed the Postal Service made a request in 2006 that its address be split. Business license fees are due annually. When the address split actually occurred wasn’t indicated.
- To prove its city license was active all along, the dance studio had its information printed from the city’s web site prior to paying retroactive license fees (so it could be included in the meeting record). The printout showed an active but unpaid license with a renewal due January 2012, and the listed address then was current.