On Oct. 13, the Blythe City Council received and filed an update on the ongoing resident Have A Heart (HAH 1 LLC) cannabis dispensary project as part of the development’s stipulated public monthly report to officials.
The monthly status update follows several of the delayed projects’ recent and notable low points, which have played out before councilmembers and the community since August.
“HAH 1, LLC applied for a commercial cannabis dispensary license in November 2017. A dispensary license was awarded to HAH 1, LLC(,) by the City Council on March 13, 2018. The license was issued with the provision that a Certificate of Occupancy be obtained before the cannabis license would be issued for the business,” states the Oct. 13 staff report background summary. “On Aug. 11, 2020(,) Council held a public hearing to determine if the provisional license issued to Have a Heart should be revoked due to lack of progress being made at the site. Council continued the Public Hearing to August 25, 2020. At the August 25th meeting(,) Council granted the applicant (six) months to complete the project, provided they provide project status updates monthly. Staff was directed to secure a $25,000 deposit from the developer and to formalize the terms of the extension in an agreement approved by the City Attorney.”
Following the approved six-month extension and its respective conditions, a Sept. 8 Blythe City Council meeting no-show by HAH 1 LLC further frustrated officials.
As previously confirmed to the Times by Blythe Interim City Manager Mallory Crecelius, both the contingent $25,000 deposit and renewed building permit terms were satisfied on Sept. 24 – the deadline day before a public hearing would have been noticed for October to again re-consider revoking HAH 1 LLC’s provisionally awarded cannabis (dispensary-category) license.
“Essentially, since we met last with Mr. (HAH 1 LLC CEO Ryan) Kunkel, we have replaced the general (contractor). There’s a new general, at this point. As of today, we came to the city (and) transferred all of the permits. Unfortunately, the former general had been wired the funds that the city had requested – more than enough, actually. He wrote a check, bounced the check. That was alarming, and not very professional,” stated HAH 1 LLC project representative Kim Dean on Oct. 13. “He had actually been very difficult to communicate with. Just prior to that, we had asked for our weekly update; we couldn’t get ahold of him. And then when the check bounced, same thing happened – that was the deal breaker, so. The local general has been replaced. Like I said, we transferred everything. Plan on getting it going, physically – boots on the ground – next week, at this point. The deposit has been re-submitted and cleared. As far as I know; hopefully.”
Manuel Martinez, of Indio-based MT Construction, was reported by Dean to be the new contractor for the HAH 1 LLC project.
“(Martinez) is out of Indio; he’s from here – but local vendors will work under his license,” stated Dean.
Staff recommendation to revoke the provisionally awarded cannabis dispensary-category license – one of only two approved to conduct according business in Blythe – was originally submitted for city council consideration at the Aug. 11 meeting.
The Blythe Have A Heart location’s noted failure to obtain the certificate of occupancy for 1894 E. Hobsonway over the span of two years – as well as a lack of communication by Kunkel and the vagrant-frequented property previously left strewn with garbage – found officials discussing the revocation of the conditionally awarded commercial cannabis permit on Aug. 11.
As previously reported, Councilmember Joe Halby has repeatedly and publicly underlined officials’ frustrations with respect to the lack of communication from Kunkel on the project – as well as emphasizing the importance of transparency with respect to the project’s “seemingly” established ownership.
Sentiments also publicly echoed by Councilmember Joey DeConinck.
“We just want to be on the up-and-up Mr. Kunkel, that’s it. We want this done; I don’t know if I can speak for the rest of these guys, but I’m tired of people coming up and asking me about it. And it’s on the daily,” said Halby on Aug. 25. “I’m just tired of it; I really am. I’m just tired. Tired of hearing about it. I just want it done and open. And I want you to own it; I don’t want you to flip it. I want Ryan Kunkel to own Have A Heart in Blythe, and that’s what I want to see.”
As previously reported by the Times, prior public comments have pointedly questioned Kunkels’ intention with the provisionally awarded commercial cannabis dispensary-category license and the respective projects’ future.
Of the eight original 2017 applicants vetted in Blythe’s historic commercial cannabis dispensary category licensing process, six were eligible. Of the six, Have A Heart had the highest aggregate score (89.57%) of Blythe’s four-phase process.