How Cannabis GIS Specialists are Saving Time with Zonegoat

Cannabis Real Estate Software

Posted by Richardson Dackam on March 17, 2021 · 10 mins read

The legalization of adult-use and medical marijuana across the country has resulted in increased demand for cannabis GIS specialists. Their new work duties entail reviewing and analyzing real estate properties for compliance with local zoning laws. They are often required to create interactive map services that real estate agents or lawyers can use to confirm the property’s compliance. Their vital work also helps new businesses secure approvals and licenses from municipalities. 

For mapping and analysis, GIS specialists work with advanced programs such as ArcGIS, the industry-standard GIS software. Still, there is a technology gap, particularly in the cannabis real estate market, and the need for better tools to streamline the search for properties compliant with local zoning regulations. That’s where Zonegoat has stepped in and introduced “Property Tracker,” an online tool that will cut down and streamline some of the tasks GIS specialists perform.  

Here are ways GIS specialists are using Zonegoat: 

Automatically Collect Zoning Buffers in Any Municipality 

When searching for properties suitable for cannabis use, the specialist needs a data layer showcasing every school, hospital, or park in order to draw the boundaries on the GIS map as per local regulations. Much of the GIS specialist’s time may be spent digitizing map data or manually generating buffers with the buffer tool. Before solving the problem of whether the property in question adheres to local zoning regulations, the specialist may have wasted a lot of valuable time chasing non-compliant properties.

City of Long Beach Cannabis Oversight Map but without property data:

A GIS Map with zoning boundaries without property data.

At its core, Zonegoat’s Property Tracker is a property aggregator that returns a list of for-sale or off-market properties following user-defined search criteria. Each property report includes a virtual map with a data layer showing buffer boundary markers around nearby schools or hospitals.

How accurate are the buffer boundaries? Zonegoat measures the distance from the center of the property and shows estimates of where boundaries should be. Its key benefit is helping GIS planners to quickly map out potential boundaries near the site of interest and identify potential zoning conflicts without in-depth analysis. By providing an estimate, the tool cuts down the general analysis from hours to mere minutes.

Does it only show buffer boundaries around schools and hospitals? You can change the buffer type to other locations, including parking lots, temples, churches, cannabis dispensaries, etc. 
Once a GIS specialist has a rough idea of potential boundary buffers, they can use GIS software to map the properties shapefile and measure boundaries from the sidewalk, curve, or corner, which is not currently possible with Zonegoat. Since Zonegoat is a property tracker service, it’s also not currently possible to search an address on a map and see its buffer boundaries. But GIS specialists can still benefit from the service by getting a quick snapshot of where all the boundaries may be located. 

Zonegoat is working to ensure that GIS specialists can download the shapefile generated by the tool. It will have all the buffer boundary points marked, providing a solid starting point for further GIS analysis. For instance, the vector data layer may be used to create a composite map enriched with a population density data layer. 

Quickly Visualise the Zoning Code Impacting Properties With Reports 

A cannabis GIS specialist may be required to sort through many properties on the market to identify if they are in conflict with existing zoning laws. To solve this challenge, they will need to develop GIS maps, work with datasets, combine composite bands, perform GIS analysis, and present their output for decision making. As you may imagine, a simple GIS project may take a lot of time and resources.

Zonegoat can help save valuable time when analyzing multiple properties. It generates a property report for each aggregated property. The report contains a digital map showing the property’s location and showcasing buffer boundaries of nearby sensitive locations. The program delivers a verdict of whether the property meets the separation distance rules. 

Now, this estimate report is originally meant for the real estate agent. How is it also useful for the GIS specialist? For one, it can help guarantee the success of the GIS project. The specialist can narrow down their search to problem-free properties or municipalities. They can devote their limited time and resources to more successful outcomes, effectively working faster and smarter. 

By having more successful projects, the GIS specialist can bolster their resume, and this will be a gateway to scoring more future projects even as an independent contractor working with small cannabis businesses, individual real estate agents, or compliance teams.     

Collaborate More Effectively 

In most work settings, the GIS specialist is viewed as the tech guru, speaking an unintelligible language to the general public. They are understood when they present the final map, which bears artistic elements to make the data easy-to-read and more impactful. 

Zonegoat can help make collaborations between the GIS specialist and other concerned parties more effective and smooth. A real estate agent, for instance, can discuss the preliminary findings of Zonegoat with the GIS specialist, who can advise on the GIS problems that need to be solved in the final map they develop. 

In another scenario, a cannabis real estate company may ask the GIS specialist to develop a map highlighting the most optimum areas to set up cannabis facilities in a given municipality. The GIS specialist will map out the city, identify the commercial zoning districts, create proximity zones around sensitive locations, and overlay municipal land parcels data.

But if the cannabis real estate company wants to find listed properties in the target areas, their agents will still search for properties on listing websites manually. Then enter the property addresses in the GIS mapping application to verify that they are away from calculated buffers. 

The agent might need additional help from a GIS specialist to update the measurement points according to local bylaw requirements that require the buffer distance to be measured from either the center of a building, a property line, the corner of a building, or even from the street. 

With Zonegoat, real estate agents may skip a couple of back and forth steps by providing their GIS specialist with a map that already contains properties generated by the tracker which they can then use for more advanced GIS calculations. Similarly, the GIS specialist could use Zonegoat to collect properties that meet local requirements, then download the data to enhance their map with real opportunities. Their property trackers are automatically updated each week with new properties that have entered the market – Zonegoat makes this data available for download in GeoJSON or shapefile format.

Run Scenarios and Predictions by Varying the Search Criteria and Separation Distances

A GIS specialist may be called upon to answer the question of how proposed cannabis zoning ordinances may affect the availability of properties for cannabis use in a particular city. The GIS specialist may finally present a map that highlights specific areas, but they will lack the insight to state, in real-time, how many properties will become available, who is selling them, and what’s their ideal use. 

Now, this task may be under the purview of a real estate agent, but the GIS specialist can increase the project’s success rate by using Zonegoat to collect properties that match a given simulation. They can create multiple scenarios by incorporating the property data into their GIS maps to visualize the future impact of proposed cannabis zoning ordinances.

For instance, a municipality may reduce the separation buffer distance of cannabis dispensaries with schools from 1000ft to 700ft. By just modifying the separation distance rules on Zonegoat, the tracker can aggregate new properties that match the updated regulations.

Zonegoat Separation Distance Feature

In municipalities planning to legalize marijuana, the same predictive analysis can be applied to find problematic areas or promising zones suited for future cannabis businesses. 

How to get started with Zonegoat

Get started by requesting early access here. You’ll find the platform intuitive and easy to use, and you can get in touch with our support team if you have more questions. We’re also excited to announce upcoming features, including:  

  • A search-filter to categorize properties as on sale, off-market, or rental;  
  • The ability to search for properties “near a given location” or within a certain radius, e.g., 5km, 10km, or 15km — at the moment, trackers aggregate properties from entire cities;
  • Weekly email notifications as new properties are added to the trackers.

To learn more, you can check out our past feature announcements.

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