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New pitch made for south Santa Rosa marijuana dispensary

A medical marijuana organization is asking for county permission to open a retail dispensary at a south Santa Rosa site where the Board of Supervisors spiked a similar proposal in 2012.

The Sonoma County Collective appears before the board Tuesday afternoon asking for permission to open a 1,600-square-foot dispensary at 4170 Santa Rosa Ave., north of Horn Avenue.

The organization promises to offer a secure and comforting environment, citing improvements made on the site to answer objections the supervisors had to the previous proposal.

"We want to have an entirely professional feel, like you are going into a doctor's office with a New Age spin," said Asa Shaeffer, CEO of the collective.

In May of 2012, the supervisors voted 3-2 to reject an application from an unrelated group to put a dispensary at the same site. Critics and county planning staff argued against the proposal on a variety of fronts, emphasizing that it sits within 100 feet of a residential area. The supervisors declined to grant a waiver of that set-back requirement in the county zoning rules.

Only Supervisors Mike McGuire and Efren Carrillo voted in favor of that application by Republic Health Center.

Even though he no longer occupies the office site, Republic owner Randy Dale is challenging the rejection in court.

Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who represents the area and was outspoken in her opposition to the Republic application, says she is willing to hear Shaeffer's plan "with an open mind."

Shaeffer says he has invested tens of thousands of dollars in improving the property, including installing a redwood plank fence that will screen much of the property from nearby homes. He has promised intensive security precautions to protect the business and keep order on behalf of the neighbors.

The application says that there would be no on-site consumption of marijuana.


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