By Dylan Doherty
Permits for an expansion of a medical marijuana facility and for construction of a 150-foot downtown wireless telephone tower were unanimously granted by the Flint Planning Commission at its Aug. 8 meeting.
As a required part of the process, the planning commission held public hearings and site plan reviews for both Verizon Wireless to build the wireless tower and for GC Flint, LLC to change the layout of their medical marijuana facility, Green Culture, on Center Road.
Ben Herrick, an attorney from Jonathan R Crane P.C., represented Verizon Wireless in the public hearing. Verizon sought a Group D special regulated use permit to build a 150-foot monopole wireless telephone tower in the parking lot northwest of the Flint Fire Department between Stevens Street and Interstate 475.
The tower is needed to replace Verizon equipment on the old YWCA building downtown, Herrick said. That building, now empty, is scheduled for demolition.
Commissioner Robert Jewell voiced concerns over safety and Federal Communications Commission review. Herrick said such towers are safe and have even survived Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew. He also said Verizon Wireless was still waiting for both a review from a structural engineer and an Antenna Structure Review (ASR) from the FCC.
During the site plan review, Herrick said the base of the tower will not be lit and will only contain a small outdoor generator, cabinets for telecommunications equipment, and shelters. The site will have a “minimal impact on the parking lot,” he said.
He said the tower would not have a light on the top. He said it is far enough away from Bishop Airport and below the minimum height of 200 feet for a top light to be required.
The commission voted 8-0 in favor of issuing the permit to Verizon Wireless conditionally on an administrative review of the antenna and structural review.
Justin Clark represented GC Flint, LLC, who sought a Group E special regulated use permit to expand their location of Green Culture at 808 South Center Rd. The stated purpose of the expansion is to change the layout of the location to accommodate patients who have difficulty entering and exiting the building. There will be no changes in the operations of the facility, services offered, or number of patients treated, he said.
Jewell noted the reason Clark provided for the expansion of the GC facility was not indicated in their permit application. Commissioner Denise Smith-Allen asked Clark if the two handicap parking spots in front of the facility are enough to accommodate the handicapped patients visiting the facility. Clark said they are and that the only hindrance for their patients is getting in and out of the building.
The commission voted 8-0 in favor of issuing the permit to GC Flint, LLC.
EVM staff writer Dylan Doherty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dylancdoherty.