NEW: West Palm discussing downtown alcohol sales, pot dispensaries


Highlights

West Palm Beach holds off on rules that would allow medical marijuana and package alcohol sales downtown

With plans for major streetscape improvements, alley enlivening projects and street-level office incubators on or near Clematis Street, city officials reached informal consensus Monday that they have enough projects in play not to rush into approving six-pack sales or medical marijuana dispensaries downtown just yet.

In a Monday work session at City Hall, Development Services Director Rick Greene was instructed to research how other communities have dealt with marijuana dispensaries. Separately, the mayor and commissioners asked him to draft provisions by which they could eventually approve and regulate the sale of beer and wine by convenience stores in the downtown waterfront zone.

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CVS and 7-Eleven plan to lease space on Clematis and both have asked the city to revise zoning rules to allow them to sell alcohol. CVS hopes to lease the former Ultima gym space at 400 Clematis, at the corner of Clematis and South Dixie Highway. 7-Eleven plans to lease the former Don Ramon restaurant space at 300 Clematis, at the corner of Clematis and South Olive Avenue.

The retailers have proposed a law that would allow “urban convenience stores” and pharmacies to sell alcohol, provided they have a maximum of 350 square feet of floor space dedicated to alcohol sales, sell no individual beers and sell no alcohol at all between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. The stores would be required to have video surveillance inside and out.

City staff has recommended against changing the current restrictions against such sales, for six months to a year, because of the changes planned for Clematis Street. Once approved, it would be hard to walk back the rules, they said.

CVS and 7-Eleven could still open, they just couldn’t sell alcohol, Greene noted.

READ: What tipped the vote to reject a 25-story downtown waterfront office tower

It was a workshop, not a regular commission meeting, so no decision was made other than to loosely instruct him to look into provisions the commission might consider.

The state legalized the sale of non-euphoric, medical marijuana in 2017, but West Palm commissioners promptly placed a moratorium on the shops, while thinking out where they would be appropriate. That moratorium expires April 1.

Commissioners said Monday they need to know more about the shops’ potential impact on surrounding business and residential areas. (Commissioners Keith James and Sylvia Moffett were absent.)

Commissioner Shanon Materio, who owns an art glass shop in Lake Worth, said dispensaries that opened in the past two months near her shop frequently attract long lines. Materio, who said she supported legalization of medical marijuana, said West Palm Beach would benefit from taking time to study how such shops affect the areas surrounding them.

“I would like to see what the results are from them operating,” she said. “I’d like to have the scope of what this means to the business community and residents around it, if there are negative impacts. Maybe there will be none.”



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