GUSTINE - A proposal to establish a cannabis cultivation facility and dispensary on the Highway 33/140 corridor will go to the city’s Planning Commission next week.

City Manager Doug Dunford said the applicant, Tip Top Farms, is proposing to establish the facility at 377 Fourth St., a property which in the past has housed a tire shop and auto parts store.

The city has been studying the issue of allowing commercial cannabis activities in earnest for the past year.

The Tip Top Farms application initially did not include a retail sales component, according to prior reports, but has since been amended to include a dispensary. Dunford said Robert Villalobos, a local businessman, is the primary applicant and would manage the enterprise.

Dunford said staff will present a comprehensive proposal to the commission for consideration which includes every element required to approve the cannabis operation. That includes recommendations for approval of changes to the municipal code, a zoning code amendment, conditional use permit, development agreement and operating agreement.

“It is one staff report but five separate decisions,” Dunford told Mattos Newspapers.

Dunford said the applicant and a consulting firm hired by the city worked for months to negotiate a development agreement which, in part, spells out the city’s share of revenues from the business, and an operating agreement which spells out strict conditions of approval.

“The development agreement, conditional use permit and operating permit are all very restrictive, as are the state of California (regulations),” Dunford said.

Dunford said he is comfortable recommending approval of a proposal which includes the retail sales.

“I think it is more beneficial. I think that for the city’s sake in terms of budgeting, it can make a significant difference,” he commented. “With a grow you are going to have a set amount that you can count on. With a dispensary, you are going to establish a baseline and watch that grow. I believe it would be beneficial for the city to move this project forward.”

Dunford said the projected revenues to the city are $400,000 to $500,000 annually to start.

He said staff has reached out to other communities with dispensaries and has received no reports of the establishments being linked to significant problems.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the application Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, and will then be asked to make a recommendation to the City Council, which has the final say on the proposal.

The application, along with whatever recommendation is reached by the Planning Commission, will go to the City Council for consideration in September.