Supervisors unanimously approve Loe Firehouse project on Madrone and Arnold
By Jay Gamel
Acannabis dispensary first proposed back in 2017 won unanimous approval from the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 14, despite vocal opposition from neighbors who have threatened to sue over the decision.
Loe Firehouse owners John Lobro and Samantha Smith are looking forward to getting the long-delayed project underway, despite having to bring the sidewalk up to current codes. The business will open in an 1,891-square-foot portion of a surplused firehouse at Arnold Drive and Madrone Road, with customers parking off Arnold and employees and delivery parking on Madrone.
“We will take our appeal to the next legal level and since we believe the issues are so obviously clear-cut, we believe we will ultimately prevail on the adjudication of the 100-foot residential setback interpretation, the proper parking calculation, and the outdated and incomplete traffic study which provides a significant California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) violation,” opposition spokesman Paul Morrison said after the hearing.
Lobro and Smith are the second owners of the project, after the original applicant, Apothevert, sold it after a 5-4 negative recommendation from the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Committee in May of 2018. Originally intended as a medical- marijuana-only business, Lobro and Smith revised the application to include recreational cannabis after county laws were changed in 2018 to allow it. Even so, the county has limited the number of cannabis dispensaries to a total of nine. Six permits have already been granted, now seven, with the addition of a new dispensary just outside the city of Sonoma earlier this year.
Planning commission staff of the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) supported the project, with conditions, and all five BZA commissioners concurred following