COALINGA, Calif. (KFSN) --Some residents in Coalinga don't like the idea of having a medical marijuana plant in their neighborhood. The old Coalinga jail is where that marijuana growing facility will operate out of, and it's in the middle of nowhere, but some folks in the area say that's simply not enough.
News of the old jail turning into a pot manufacturing facility is not sitting well with Sherie Piper, a mom of six who lives a little over a mile away from where this type of business will be.
"If you want to do a marijuana plant take it to a field where there's not residents around-- especially not children."
Wednesday Coalinga City Council members, in a 4 to 1 vote, ruled in favor of making the 77,000 square foot building that's been empty for at least five years into a cannabis manufacturing operation. Some neighbors questioned why the city went in that direction versus opening it back up to what it was initially designed for.
"We wouldn't be opposed to turning it into a jail, but we can't find anyone to take it," said Nathan Vosburg, Coalinga Councilmember.
Vosburg said not only that, the city would not make as much money it so desperately needs to get out of its $3.2 million debt.
"We're speculating it would be anywhere from 1 to 2 million a year in taxes. So, more money, yeah, it would be a little more money," said Vosburg.
Fresno County Sheriff's Ofice said it does not have jurisdiction over what happens in the city of Coalinga. However, Sheriff Mims said there are limits to that.
"It is not in compliance with federal law. Marijuana is still a schedule one drug. No matter what laws state pass, they're going to conflict with federal law," Mims said.
Melanie Gonzalez, a mom of four, hopes it all works out. She lives in the same neighborhood as Piper-- a place where basketball hoops are on just about every corner.
"This facility has been sitting empty costing the city a lot of money, and I feel like this is is great opportunity to help the city bring in money. Bring in workers. I don't believe the crime is going to go up," said Gonzalez.
Now the city tells me this will not be a dispensary. It will strictly be a plant where marijuana is grown and the shipped to other areas.
The Coalinga police chief tells Action News he has given the council recommendations on things that need to be done to ensure public safety and comply with state law once the facility is up and running.