Plans for Controversial Marijuana Dispensary on Edge of Paradise Valley Revived

Article originally posted on AZ Central on January 15, 2021

The Tatum Plaza on the northwest corner of Tatum and Shea boulevards is pictured on Jan. 14, 2021. Marijuana retailer Harvest Health and Recreation has applied for zoning changes to open a dispensary in the plaza pictured.

A Tempe-based marijuana company has revived controversial plans to open a dispensary on the upscale corner of Tatum and Shea boulevards.

Harvest Health and Recreation, which runs 15 dispensaries in Arizona, submitted a rezoning application to Phoenix in July, withdrew it in August, and reapplied on Dec. 24.

The multi-state dispensary operator has three more licenses for Arizona dispensaries that it is working to open this year.

The Tatum-Shea dispensary would occupy about 5,000 square feet of the 15,000-square-foot building closest to the intersection’s northwest corner, in front of Trader Joe’s and O.H.S.O Brewery.

The City Council would first have to approve a rezoning request, which Councilwoman Debra Stark said has faced opposition from surrounding neighborhoods.

Stark said she will approve of the rezoning only if the community is supportive, and the council may go along with Stark’s vote given the dispensary is in her district.

“I want to stand by the neighborhood,” she said.

The company has declined to comment on the application, likely because of anticipated blowback from nearby residents, including in Paradise Valley.

While the dispensary is in Phoenix, it is directly across the street from the Paradise Valley border.

Paradise Valley had some of the most anti-marijuana voters in the November election when the state approved possession and sales of the substance to people age 21 and older, according to analysis of precinct-level data by The Arizona Republic.

If Harvest opens a dispensary at the location, it can apply to the state to operate as a recreational retailer there as well, thanks to Proposition 207 passing in Arizona.

Location is a prominent intersection

The current commercial zoning for the northwest corner does not allow for a dispensary, but the proposed “planned unit development” zoning would.

Stark said she heard a lot of opposition from the nearby neighbors this summer, mostly from people concerned that property values would fall.

Stark said she asked Harvest to withdraw its application, and suggested the company locate on the northeast corner of the intersection, since the zoning would already allow for a dispensary at that location and there are many vacancies there.

She said she believes the company may have renewed its rezoning plans this winter thinking that, with the passage of Proposition 207, they would have a better chance of getting it approved.

Stark said she has heard less opposition this time around, so far.

According to the application filed with the city, the goals of the change are to “breathe new life” into the 25-year-old development, “retain and attract new and dynamic tenants,” and to “provide a new image for this prominent corner through enhanced landscape and site amenities.”

Marijuana cultivation, which is frequently opposed by adjacent businesses because of the odor, would not be permitted on site. Curbside pickup would be, according to the application.

The north Phoenix and Paradise Valley area has fewer medical marijuana dispensaries than many other parts of metro Phoenix, which would give Harvest a corner on the market in the area.