THREE OAKS — The Three Oaks Village Planning Commission held an Oct. 6 public hearing on the draft version of Zoning Ordinance Amendments Related to Marihuana Businesses before sending in on to the Village Council.
"This hearing is not about whether marijuana-related businesses should be allowed (that's Village Council's decision) but about zoning," said Planning Commission Chairman Gene Svebakken.
Village Manager Dan Faulkner noted that a Public Hearing on the villages draft marihuana ordinances is planned ahead of the next Village Council meeting (originally scheduled for Oct. 14 and later moved to 7 p.m. Oct. 21).
Planning Commission and Village Council member Colleen Newquist said members of the council expressed a desire to know how downtown merchants feel about the issue of where to allow retail marijuana businesses during recent special meeting.
Newquist said she got feedback from about 20 merchants "almost evenly divided" about whether a (marijuana) business should be located downtown on along U.S. 12. She said "everyone" was in favor of allowing such businesses, but the location issue came down to parking availability.
She later said 10 in favor of downtown and seven saying "only on 12."
Newquist said the businesses she contacted that favor having such a business downtown are Goods & Heroes (want one in both locations), Poppy Hill, Journeyman, School of American Music, Nelsons, Tulley's, Alapash, Oaks Eatery, Froehich's, Sycamore House, and Vintage Goods (fine with either location).
Those who she talked to whp don't want one downtown include: Viola's, owner of the new gallery, Drier's, Hancock and Hancock, Judy Ferrara Gallery, Collector Zone and Acorn Theater.
"Their concerns were around parking."
The following are among the public comments made during the Oct. 6 hearing:
Suzanna Bierwirth said she would like to see a cannabis retail business in the village, adding that she would leave those in the industry to decide whether to locate in downtown or along U.S. 12 (otherwise known as Ash Street).
Marco Chavarry said he supports an establishment downtown, and agrees parking is a concern. He said there are plenty of parking spaces, but the signage could use some improvement.
Joe Hinman said he thinks there is ample downtown parking and signage could be improved.
Tom Flint said he thinks the Planning Commission has done a good job with the proposed ordinance.
"If we have parking problems let's solve our parking problem. That's not the same as whether or not we have cannabis commerce in the town. To turn down that sort of revenue for the village is completely irresponsible," he said.
Thomas Pauly said he thinks there should be a marijuana dispensary downtown, not out on U.S. 12 by Schwark Road. He said an antique store Buchanan expanded its hours after a dispensary opened next door.
Pauly said the parking problems can be resolved, noting that there is a lot of parking by Dewey Cannon Park.
Angela Reichert said she thinks it is important to have a business downtown.
"I don't think Three Oaks would stop another restaurant or a bar or anything else coming in because of parking, and I don't think it should be an issue with this."
Reichert said she if the Planning Commission's plan "is gutted by the council again then "November third's right around the corner."
Devin Loker spoke about a proposed Exclusive Healing facility at 6761 U.S. 12, saying there are no parking issues and lots of traffic at that site).
He said they are licensed to grow in Galien and would like the opportunity to do some retail, adding "Please don't kick us off U.S. 12."
Tyler Ream said he supports the work the Planning Commission and committees have put in, adding that parking has to be addressed either way, and a lot comes down to signage.
Becky Thomas said she appreciates Planning Commission's hard work, thinks parking issue can be solved.
Larry Shawver said he wanted to compliment everybody involved.
"I think it's one of the best efforts I've seen in the village since I've been here."
Joanna Welter said she is in favor of the proposed ordinance and believes that "diversifying our businesses and our community is very important, especially now."
She noted that the pandemic and related restrictions have had a negative impact on restaurants and other businesses.
Newquist also read from letters and emails including the following:
Bridget and Tad Verdun supported the addition of marijuana businesses in the village, specifically downtown, adding that they believe it will contribute to the local economy through the creation of jobs and added tax revenues, along with increasing foot traffic downtown.
Garth Taylor wrote that he favors a retail location on Elm Street or on a side street north of the tracks or facing Dewey Cannon Park.
"A central location will draw needed foot traffic to the heart of the village. I do not believe having a marijuana store sends any more of a contradictory message to young people than having establishments that manufacture, serve or sell alcoholic beverages."
Taylor added that any building where such a business is located should be required to "remodel the structure to a high historical standard."
Carrie Lintner said any buildings on U.S. 12 east of the stoplight would be too close to the school, so only those west of the light would qualify. She also said there is a need to bring one or two downtown to bring traffic there.
Ultimately planners voted to send the draft version of the ordinance to the Village Council
The draft version of the Zoning Ordinance Amendments Related to Marihuana Businesses reviewed by planners includes the following:
All marihuana businesses shall meet the following locational criteria: 1. A marihuana business is prohibited from operating in any residential zoning district or in any residential unit. 2. A marihuana business shall not operate within 500 feet of a pre-existing private or public school, providing education in kindergarten or any grades 1-‐12. 3. The separation distance is measured in a straight line from the nearest property line of a protected use to the nearest portion of the building occupied by the marihuana business. 4. The separation distance shall apply to protected uses located in adjacent jurisdictions. C. A Marihuana Microbusiness, Marihuana Retailer and Medical Marihuana Provisioning Center shall also comply with the following: 1. All activities shall be conducted within an enclosed building. October 6, 2020 -‐ Public Hearing Draft (Revised per 9.01.20 PC Review) 4 2. A Marihuana Microbusiness, Marihuana Retailer, and Medical Marihuana Provisioning Center shall not operate within 500 feet of any other Marihuana Microbusiness, Marihuana Retailer or Medical Marihuana Provisioning Center. 3. A Marihuana Microbusiness, Marihuana Retailer, and Medical Marihuana Provisioning Center shall open no earlier than 9:00 a.m. local time and close no later than 9:00 p.m. local time, and no person, except employees, shall be allowed in the facility after hours. D. A Marihuana Grower, Marihuana Processor, Marihuana Safety Compliance Facility, Medical Marihuana Grower, Medical Marihuana Processor, and Medical Marihuana Safety Compliance Facility shall also comply with the following: 1. All activities shall be conducted within an enclosed building. 2. All businesses must be designed and operated to minimize the amount of pesticides, fertilizers, nutrients, marijuana, and other potential contaminants discharged into the public wastewater and/or stormwater systems. 3. No marijuana shall be cultivated, grown, manufactured or processed, handled or tested in any manner that would emit odors beyond the interior of the building or which is otherwise discernable to another person. The odor must be prevented by the installation of an operable filtration or ventilation and exhaust equipment. 4. No marijuana shall be cultivated, grown, manufactured or processed, handled or tested in any manner that would emit noise beyond the interior of the building or which is otherwise discernable to another person. 5. All businesses must maintain a secure, closed environment where marihuana is to be stored, grown, processed, or tested, in order to prevent the inadvertent and/or unauthorized removal of marihuana from the facility.
Also in the draft zoning ordinance are the following:
F. Signs for any marihuana business shall comply with the Village sign ordinance and shall not use the word marihuana or cannabis or any symbol representing the marihuana plant; nor may the word marihuana or cannabis or any symbol representing the marihuana plant be displayed on any part of the building. G. All Special Land Use Permits granted to a marihuana business shall be conditioned on obtaining a license to operate the business by the State of Michigan. H. Consistent with the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, Special Land Use Permits shall be designated to the property where the Special Land Use is approved, not to the entity or individual applying for the Special Land Use Permit. However, the Operating License shall be granted to a particular entity or individual. The Operating License shall not be transferable to any other entity or individual, nor shall it be transferable to any other lot within the Village. I. An entity or individual wishing to operate a marihuana business on a lot where a Special Land Use Permit has been granted, but where no Operating License is active, shall apply to amend the Special Land Use Permit to reflect the proposed new Operating License. Amending the Special Land Use Permit shall require the same process as obtaining a new Special Land Use Permit, as established by Chapter 6.3 of this Ordinance.