By Dan Moffett
With a medical marijuana constitutional amendment on the state ballot Nov. 8, a compassionate-use state law already on the books and a nationwide trend toward legalization, Briny Breezes is moving to protect itself against the emerging cannabis business.
The Town Council unanimously approved the first reading of a new ordinance that would prohibit the growing, distribution or selling of marijuana in Briny Breezes for one year.
Town Attorney John Skrandel said the moratorium “isn’t an end unto itself,” but it gives the town breathing room to assess how to permanently regulate commercial marijuana-related activities.
Briny Breezes has no restrictions on marijuana in its code and land-development regulations.
With the ordinance, the town can temporarily prevent marijuana businesses from operating within its limits.
“The ordinance does not prohibit use,” Skrandel said, “just sales, growth and distribution.”
The law would have no impact on residents who are using marijuana for medical purposes, he said.
During the moratorium, the council should consider surveying residents for their opinions on marijuana businesses, Skrandel said, and then let the Planning and Zoning Board develop permanent regulations later next year.
Planning board Chairman Jerry Lower said Briny Breezes officials decided to pursue adopting a moratorium after receiving a letter from a business that inquired about the town’s marijuana regulations. Lower said other Florida communities, including Delray Beach, have put similar protective measures in place.
The protection comes with a cost, however. Council President Sue Thaler said the ordinance will cost the town $3,500 to publish and codify. Final reading and vote on the law is scheduled for the Nov. 17 Town Council meeting.
In other business:
• Alderman Bobby Jurovaty and Thaler said the town has heard from five applicants for the newly created administrator/clerk position. Thaler said she is negotiating with the most promising candidate and hopes to have the position filled within the next month. Deputy Town Clerk Steve Cooper is resigning and moving to Atlanta, and the council wants to combine his clerk duties with those of an administrator. Briny has $50,000 set aside in the budget to pay for the new part-time position.
• Thaler said the Florida Department of Transportation has signed off on the town’s plan to put a golf cart crossing at the Cordova Avenue stoplight on A1A — but two details have yet to be resolved. FDOT wants assurances that the carts won’t end up traveling the wrong way on a one-way street, and that pedestrians and carts won’t share pathways that were built with federal money. Briny had been waiting to hear from FDOT since February 2015.
NOTE: Planning board Chairman Jerry Lower is publisher of The Coastal Star.
By Dan Moffett