With a unanimous vote by the Planning Commission on Monday night, Leaf Concepts LLC became the 10th marijuana-related business to obtain a conditional use permit to operate in Costa Mesa.
The medical marijuana manufacturing facility still needs a medical marijuana business permit and a business license from the city before it can open.
The Planning Commission’s decision is final unless appealed to the City Council within seven days.
Leaf Concepts plans to use an existing 7,783-square-foot industrial space in Building E at 3505 Cadillac Ave. to extract and refine oils from cannabis plants for a variety of medicinal products, such as vape pen cartridges and edibles.
Costa Mesa’s Measure X allows certain marijuana manufacturing, research, testing and distribution businesses in a specified area north of South Coast Drive and west of Harbor Boulevard. Retail sales of marijuana and marijuana products remain banned in the city.
Though Leaf Concepts was far from the first cannabis-related business proposed in the Measure X zone, it was the first to draw significant public opposition — mainly from St. Barnabas Orthodox Church in Building G-3 at 3505 Cadillac.
Several parishioners addressed the commission Monday and urged denial of the proposal, saying the business doesn’t belong so close to where families and young children gather.
Among their concerns were the possibility of noxious fumes seeping out of the facility and into the surroundings, the use of potentially dangerous and volatile chemicals in the manufacturing process and the chance that a marijuana business might attract more crime to the area.
Leaf Concepts representatives, however, told of the ways they would secure the property — with features such as cameras and onsite guards — and said additional monitoring and air purifying measures would be installed to prevent fumes and odors from escaping.
In a nod to the church, they also agreed to close on Sundays. The initial hours of operation will be 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, according to city planning documents. Those could be expanded if demand warrants.
Some commissioners seemed taken aback at the resistance to the application. Though St. Barnabas parishioners said Leaf Concepts would be only about 60 to 70 feet outside the church door, several other cannabis businesses previously received permits to operate not much farther away in the same business park.
“I haven’t heard any evidence that would lead me to that conclusion to say that 60 feet is too close,” said commission Chairman Stephan Andranian.
Vice Chairman Byron de Arakal agreed and pointed out that Measure X doesn’t restrict how close marijuana businesses can be to churches.
“The people of Costa Mesa spoke. They said, ‘We’re going to have it, we’re going to have it here,’ ” he said. “They didn’t put any distance restrictions in place and they didn’t put any use restrictions in place with respect to compatibility.”
Commissioner Carla Navarro Woods said she didn’t share the security concerns that members of the public raised and that she thinks the surveillance and monitoring measures used by cannabis operations throughout the Measure X zone will create a secure area.
“I have faith that this is just a medical processing facility and it’s not going to have the same sort of people that you would normally see around an unlicensed dispensary or any sort of unlicensed facility,” she said.
Here is a list of other marijuana businesses with an approved conditional use permit in Costa Mesa: