Owner Mike Richards addresses concerns during the open house for Nature's Healing Center medical marijuana dispensary at the Grace Inn on Monday, May 20, 2013.

[David Jolkovski/AFN]

The city of Phoenix Board of Adjustment has upheld a decision to deny a medical marijuana dispensary the zoning variances it needs to open in Ahwatukee Foothills.

The owner and attorney for Nature’s Healing Center stood before the Board of Adjustment on Thursday, Aug. 8 and asked the board to grant them two zoning variances, one to allow the dispensary to be within 825 feet of a Child Time Day Care and one to be within 250 feet of a residentially zoned area at 4902 E. Warner Road. A zoning officer denied the variances in May, stating there were no special circumstances that required the city to grant the variances. That zoning officer’s decision was upheld.

Nature’s Healing Center will now have to decide to find a new location within the Ahwatukee Foothills Community Health Analysis Area (CHAA) or appeal the decision to Superior Court.

During the hearing once again Nature’s Healing Center was accused of using false documents to obtain their license from the state, but the board members said they were basing their decision off of the proximity to the day care and the zoning officer’s findings.

“We are not pleased with the outcome from the Board of Adjustment,” said Peter Valenzuela, chief executive officer of the Genesis Group Public Affairs, who is representing the owner of Nature’s Healing Center. “We do believe that there were false remarks and false claims made against my client which are totally untrue… However my client is prepared to move forward in Ahwatukee. My client was the plaintiff in a case with the state in which the state provided the dispensary an injunction because of the zoning and the issues we have with finding a site in local jurisdictions like the City of Phoenix and Ahwatukee. We are going to review our options both from an application standpoint and the remarks that were made from a legal standpoint. We will find a dispensary within the Ahwatukee CHAA.”

Several Ahwatukee Foothills residents have been following this case ever since Nature’s Healing Center first attempted to open in a location at 48th Street and Chandler Blvd. NHC decided to abandon that location out of respect for neighbors but those neighbors have continued to be outspoken against a dispensary anywhere in Ahwatukee. They have created a Facebook page, “Safe, Healthy Kids and Community.”

“We can’t just drop it now,” said Kristin Ito, who owns Sonoran Hills Dental with her husband. “I’m sure they’ll take it to Superior Court. They’ve invested a lot into this process. They’re not going to give up easily so we can’t either.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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