Jim Thorpe discusses marijuana dispensary ordinance
Jim Thorpe Borough Council remained undecided last week on where it will allow medical marijuana dispensaries as part of a new ordinance in the works.
As the draft ordinance is currently written, dispensaries would be included in the borough’s C-1 neighborhood commercial, C-3 neighborhood commercial and industrial zones.
Dispensaries would already be restricted from being located within 1,000 feet of a school, but council has also discussed a 1,000-foot buffer from parks.
“We don’t want them around parks,” Mayor Michael Sofranko said. “You’re going to have kids there playing. But we’re unique in that we have parks in every area of town.”
The borough has a number of parks and, depending on how that is defined in the ordinance, officials fear that could “exclude” dispensaries from any zoned area, which would not be legal.
“We’re going to check with county mapping to see what the lines are if we add a 1,000-foot buffer from parks,” Borough Manager Maureen Sterner said. “Council does need to think about the future. We see how much the governor and lieutenant governor are pushing the legalization of recreational marijuana. It’s much easier to get this ordinance in now before it is legalized rather than scramble after the fact. You don’t know what these dispensaries will turn into if they legalize marijuana.”
A buffer from Kemmerer Park, for example, would likely eliminate the C-3 zone, some of the industrial zone or anywhere downtown. To give a point reference, the Marion Hose Bar, near the top of the C-3 district downtown, is 1,500 feet from the train station located next to Josiah White Park.
Councilman Robert Schaninger said the dispensaries, should one ever come to Jim Thorpe, will draw traffic.
“I don’t know why you would want that traffic downtown,” he said. “Whenever I’ve been to one of those places with one of my friends, there is 60 cars there at the beginning of the day and all day long. It’s crazy.”
Sterner said after the borough sees what the 1,000-foot buffer from parks looks like on a map, it will have further discussion with its solicitor and council regarding how to proceed.