Neighborhood riled over intended use of former firehouse; appeal likely

By Jay Gamel

If use permits had to be approved by popular vote, this one probably wouldn’t have passed. But patience and determination paid off with a 5-0 vote in favor of the application by John Lobro and Samantha Smith to operate a medical marijuana dispensary and general marijuana retail sales store at the site of a former firehouse on the corner of Arnold Dr. and Madrone Rd., a fairly busy intersection in a rural part of Sonoma Valley.

Lobro and Smith are married and have two young children.

The Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission voted 5-4 against recommending the project in May of 2018, with the opposing commissioners strongly considering the neighborhood sentiment.

The mixed rural residential neighborhood contains dozens of single-family homes across Madrone Rd. from the project site, three apartment complexes on the same side of the street, and limited commercial lots on the corner surrounding the firehouse, including the adjacent Rancho Market on Madrone and an art gallery on Arnold, also next door.

“I’m not opposed to a dispensary, just not here,” Robert Duste said,

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