By Jim Tortolano
Thumbs up for a new apartment complex, but thumbs down for recreational marijuana. Those were two decisions reached by the Westminster City Council Wednesday night.
On a 5-0 vote, the council approved the development of the 50-unit complex on Locust Street south of Westminster Boulevard and west of Plaza Street, but not before a long wrangle over a wall running along the south side of the property.
The city planning commission had earlier approved the project, but with several conditions including an eight-foot wall on one side of the development, instead of the six-foot wall required by city codes.
Homeowners for an adjacent townhome complex had argued in favor of the higher wall for sound and privacy protections. Steve Jones, representing the developer, proposed that instead of building a second wall right next to townhouse complex wall, the existing wall could simply be topped with material that would raise it to the required height.
(Jones is a Garden Grove city councilman, and is the sole name on the Nov. 8 ballot in the race for mayor.)
The complication, though, was that the developer didn’t own the wall. After much discussion, the council voted in favor of the project and deleted the requirement to build an eight-foot wall unless the six-foot barrier could be raised.
Also Wednesday night, the council voted to approve an urgency ordinance on marijuana in anticipation of the possible approval by voters of Prop. 64, which would legalize recreational marijuana in California.
Prop. 64 does allow local agencies to regulate or ban certain commercial uses within its city limits. State licensing of marijuana businesses won’t begin until Jan. 1, 2018.
A city can ban outdoor cultivation of cannabis, but if Prop. 64 passes, persons 21 years and older will be able allowed to cultivate up to six plants inside their home.
Although two council members spoke in favor of the usefulness of medicinal marijuana, the ordinance was approved on a 4-0 vote with Councilman Tyler Diep absent.