Sonoma Planning Commission OKs dispensary use permit – Sonoma Index-Tribune

The design of Sonoma’s first commercial storefront cannabis dispensary was hammered last week by members of the Sonoma Planning Commission, who said the renovations by dispensary operator Sparc would make the building look “quasi-industrial,” “like a Best Buy, and “like it belongs in Palm Springs.”

Otherwise, commissioners were impressed by the details of the operation, and they approved a use permit for the retail business as long as the architect maintains more of the existing building features.

The Sparc dispensary is seeking a permit to operate at 19315 Sonoma Highway, recently the home of the orange-painted El Gallo Pinto restaurant. The proposed renovations to the building included metal siding, a boxy entrance and a roof sign. Commissioners feared that the changes would take the building further from its roots, although a historic evaluation found that the building is not eligible for protection. It was built in 1908 as part of the Sonoma Grove Resort and Restaurant and operated under the same name and several owners into the 1990s, surviving two fires. The original roofline has been maintained, and commissioners did not want any features added onto it.

“What I have an objection to is the conversion of a building of rich history into something that doesn’t look historical from the outside at all. It looks like a new building,” Commissioner Larry Barnett said. “Once these changes are made, its sense of history, to me, is going to be lost.”

Sparc CEO Erich Pearson argued that the additions were not structural, and a restoration would still be possible by a future tenant. He said the metal siding is fire resistant and is an ode to turkey farms that have operated up and down the Sonoma Valley. The inside of the dispensary would showcase information on the building’s history, he said.


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