By Nic Custer
Proposals for medical marijuana dispensaries at three Flint locations were the main topic discussed at the March 8 Flint Planning Commission meeting, which drew more than 60 people to the city hall’s Dome Auditorium.
Many audience members were College Cultural neighborhood residents who came for a public hearing about Bio-Med LLC’s application to establish a medical marijuana dispensary in the former Family Video, 1835 E. Court St.
Most of the audience left, however, before commissioners heard from city planners about a proposed zoning standard that separates medical marijuana dispensaries from residential areas.
Park may preclude pot
Before the public hearing for the Court Street property could begin, Interim Chief Legal Officer Anthony Chubb, City of Flint, announced the city assessor had informed city officials there is “potentially a park within 300 feet” of the site.
He said if it is determined that the triangle-shaped green space at the intersection of Commonwealth, Windemere and Montclair avenues, is a legal park, then the site would be ineligible to be zoned as a provisioning center.
He recommended the public hearing be postponed until the April 12 meeting. While the group did have a second meeting scheduled for later in March, the Open Meetings Act requires that neighbors get at least 15 days notice before a hearing is held.
Chairman Robert Wesley said if the site is determined to be a park, neighbors would receive notice in the mail as well. Associate City Planner Kevin Schronce clarified that even if it wasn’t commissioned as an official park, the parcel’s legal description is parkland.
After the meeting, Schronce told East Village Magazine that, according to the Genesee County Register of Deeds, the green space was deeded to the city of Flint in 1919 to be a public park for public use. As a result, he said, Bio-Med LLC will not be able to use the former Family Video for a medical marijuana dispensary.
Zoning reviews affect dispensaries
Planning commissioners have been reviewing the city’s draft zoning code and approving articles a few at a time over the last two months. The group is currently discussing the code’s ninth article regarding use regulations.
This section includes zoning restrictions for all additionally regulated uses including strip clubs and steam baths (class A), pawnshops, party stores and tattoo parlors (class B) and medical marijuana dispensaries (class C).
The current medical marijuana ordinance does not allow dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a school, park, church or another medical marijuana provisioning center or within 2,000 feet of 4 or more Class A businesses.
These regulations are also in the new draft zoning, but Schronce told the commission that the planners were intending to add a locational standard to the zoning, which would mean that dispensaries cannot be established within 500 feet of a residential district. This type of locational standard already exists for the other additional regulated uses, which range from 300 to 1,000 feet.
Schronce said planners addressed comments they heard from the commission, investigated best practices from other communities and tried to make the zoning consistent with state law and the city’s residential requirements for other additional regulated uses.
The draft zoning language states that the medical marijuana restrictions don’t apply to businesses that have been open and conducting business at their current location since February 14, 2011, when the city first passed a moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries.
Davison Road hearing postponed
A public hearing for another dispensary at 2610 Davison Rd. was also postponed. Applicant Anna Shapova, who will be managing the business, did not turn in all of the required materials to have her application fully considered. Her attorney, John Tosto, said the proposed hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., the business will not be a compassion club and nothing will be grown onsite.
Commissioner Robert Jewell said handwritten portions of the application were illegible. He questioned her capability of running the business because her application did not include required site plan materials.
Commissioner Leora Campbell also reminded the applicant that she was required to submit a business plan with the application. Campbell later said that the commission does not have all the information it needs to make a determination and without that information the application cannot go forward.
Michael Herriman, the building’s owner, spoke in support of the application. He said the building was used for a noninvasive pain management center for several years and he is anxious to see it return to that use. He said he was impressed with Shapova and her desire to follow the proper steps to get city approval.
The application was postponed until April 12 and the applicant needs to provide a business plan, lighting plan, building security plan, signage plan and a revised application.
Center Road changes OK’d
Green Culture, a medical marijuana dispensary operating at 808 S. Center Rd., was unanimously approved to modify its layout. Applicant Justin Clark said the dispensary needed the modification to better accommodate its patients.
He said there is a married couple who are both paralyzed and use electric wheelchairs. The current layout doesn’t allow the business to serve them at the same time. He requested replacing three walls with a security door between the front and back of the business, which would open up the back area for patient use.