As municipalities throughout Michigan decide whether or not to allow cannabis businesses under the Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act, the question of proper zoning has come into question for many citizens. With the existing stigma and lack of information to the general public, it is little wonder that many citizens offer pushback against the possibility of a cannabis dispensary just down the road. Many wonder how such businesses will impact property values, as well as the potential for scents that may be less than desirable to some. However the economic benefits may outweigh the concerns, especially for some areas attracting the right attention from aspiring entrepreneurs.
Mt. Morris is one such city, as one end of the region becoming known as the green triangle, no doubt an homage to the Emerald Triangle in northern California. This so-called triangle consisting of Thetford, Richfield, and Mt. Morris townships has been so named due to the high presence of cannabis merchants and the city zoning which is favorable to such establishments. Such zoning includes provision for “Patient Care Centers,” and stipulates that they be at least 300 feet from each other, family residences, “public park, school, child care facility, or location of any religious exercise.”
Additionally no facility is allowed in districts zoned as Residential Agriculture (RA), Single Family Residence (R-1), (R-2), & (R-3), Multiple Family Residential (MF), Manufactured Housing Park (MHP), Rural Estate Residential District (RE), or on a Multi-Parcel Property upon which another facility already exists. For the most part this approach is relatively straight forward and leaves quite a lot of room for businesses to develop, though a specific Special Land Use Permit application must be submitted and reviewed by the Planning Commission at a public hearing.
Wednesday, January 4th, the Planning Commission met and approved a request to rezone a tract of land to light industrial on the corner of Jennings and Mt. Morris roads for the purpose of creating an industrial park for medical marihuana businesses. The land would be fashioned such that multiple businesses can use the property as a commercial space for build out of cultivation centers, processing facilities, and possibly even dispensaries. The proposal has been brought forth by Ashley Andrews, director of Flint-based Andrews Properties and the CEO of Cannabee Farms. The company has made an impact on legislators it seems through their desire for compliance and stated commitment to advancing stat-of-the-art facilities. Even with the Planning Commission on board, it will take a positive vote from the township board to approve the 31,000 square foot facility development. As the hearing must be public, a number of citizens came out to voice their concerns or support before the decision was made in a 4-3 vote affirming the change.
Most of the concerns were related to the proximity the site would have to local residents, including bus stops and other public sites. A $4 Million investment for the development of the land and the promise of 50 or more jobs may have been the deciding factor as deliberation occurred. It remains to be seen what the township board will do to block or further the proposition.
Another such proposal was presented and approved by the Planning Commission for a smaller development in the 4300 block of Clio road. Sinan DeSilva, the proprietor, has been turned down by the Commission once previously for an old auto garage he wanted to repurpose into a cultivation and processing facility. Despite positive remarks from neighbors noting a belief in the expected rise of property values if the plan was approved, Planning Commissioner Brian Baxter is quoted saying “Right now, the way it is, my opinion is it doesn’t meet the master plan.”
Despite this setback DeSIlva now awaits a decision from the township board for his approved facility proposal with intent to clean, secure, and lease the facility to a licensed commercial cultivator or processor. Both of these projects are not a done deal yet, but with sizeable job and economic interest for the area, it seems likely they may be approved.