63.6 F
Winter Haven
Tuesday, April 16, 2024

City of Winter Haven City Commission Hears Proposed Amendment That Would Amend City Code to Permit Medical Clinics to Open Accessory Pharmacies On Site

Must Read

On first reading, Monday, March 11, 2024 the City of Winter Haven City Commission heard a proposed amendment to City Code that would allow Pharmacies, and by State Law, Medical Marijuana Dispensing Facilities within the Mixed-Use (MX) zoning district, but only as an accessory use collocated with a medical clinic.

by James Coulter

A local medical clinic will soon be providing pharmacy services on site at the clinic pending approval by the Winter Haven City Commissioners on an amendment to city code. The ordinance in on the March 25 agenda for second reading and final consideration by the City Commission. 

At their meeting Monday evening, the Winter Haven City Commission was introduced to the amendment at first reading of an ordinance that would amend city code to permit medical clinics to open accessory pharmacies on site. State law requires that medical marijuana dispensaries and pharmacies be permitted within the same zoning district. The pharmacy or dispensary must be reviewed by the Planning Commission as a special use permit and can only be accessory to a medical clinic.  They cannot be stand along and they do not receive automatic approval. Medical clinics are defined as medical offices where three (3) or more medical fields are located within one office/medical campus.

The ordinance would amend Section 21-97 of the Winter Haven Code of Ordinances, which, according to the city staff memo, “provides standards for pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensing facilities, and was adopted in 2018 with the legalization of medical marijuana by the State of Florida.”

The ordinance would add “pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensing facilities” as an “accessory special use”, add “medical clinics” as a use in the zoning table, and amend and add definitions for “medical office” and “medical clinic” to provide clarity and safeguards. 

Currently, Winter Haven has two large medical clinics in districts that are zoned as “mixed use”, where commercial and residential properties are permitted. One of those clinics, Bond Clinic, according to the city staff memo, “is currently seeking to open an accessory pharmacy within their medical clinic campus.”

Cesar Cedeno, a representative for CenterWell Pharmacy, which is a property of Humana Insurance, explained that his organization is working with Bond Clinic to open a pharmacy to take care of their patients.

Currently, the pharmacy will employ a pharmacist and two technicians, who are hired. They have completed the build-up of the pharmacy, and they are waiting for their business license.

“We do not do medical marijuana at all,” he explained. “When we learned that [an accessory pharmacy] is not permitted by zoning, we started the process that led us here today.”

Ashley Conrad-Scanlan, Marketing Director for Bond Clinic, explained that the pharmacy will allow her organization to fulfill its pillars, which are: community, access, quality, and reduced cost.

“Having a pharmacy on our premises is going to allow us to be able to meet these pillars in a very specific way,” she said. “[Our patients] being able to come onto our premise and see their doctors and get their medications refilled in one stop is going to be something that our patients have been asking for a long time.”

City Commissioner Brian Yates asked who would be against these amendments to the city code other than potentially CVS Pharmacy or Walgreens. Conrad-Scanlan explained that she does not believe there is any real opposition to the proposed changes.

“I think it simply has been the way the code was written, with it [potentially] opening up the door to a dispensary because of schools being in proximity and a lot of single resident housing,” she said. “My first question was: how can we make this happen while also protecting the community and not allowing dispensaries where it is not wanted.”

Commissioner Yates stated that his concern was that the amendment would not simply affect Bond Clinic, but that it would also affect “the broader spectrum” and potentially “open the door” for medical marijuana dispenseries.

Economic Opportunity and Community Investment Director Eric Labbe answered that the amendment would only permit pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensing facilities within a medical clinic that has three or more practices, of which the community currently only has two within the MX zoning district. Additional regulations are still in place to ensure marijuana dispensaries are regulated including not being allowed within 500 feet of a school. Additionally, Labbe reiterated that any application for either a pharmacy or dispensary would go through a public hearing and require the approval of the Planning Commission. As such, he believes the amendment would not have a negative impact.

The ordinance is written to include marijuana dispensaries along with accessory pharmacies due to requirements in state law.

- Advertisement -

Latest News

In Loving Memory of Richard Kevin Simo

Obituary of Richard Kevin Simo Mr. Richard Kevin Simo, age 87 a resident of Winter Haven passed away Thursday, April...
- Advertisement -

More Articles Like This

- Advertisement -