By Scott Sullivan
Two rezoning requests on the Saugatuck Township Planning Commission agenda April 22 could bring medical marijuana operations here.
Former Hercules Restaurant owners Don Schipper and John Seros of Saugatuck and Bruce Stewart of Studio Two Architects in Douglas are seeking redesignation of 2.8 undeveloped acres near I-196 Exit 36 south of Douglas from C-3 Interchange Commercial to I-1 Industrial with plans for a growing facility on the site.
Aaron Smith of Muskegon-based RNM Financial Services is seeking to rezone a 3.5-acre northern split of 3577 64th St. fronting Blue Star Highway between Spectators Restaurant and Lakeshore Outfitters from C-1 General Commercial to C-3 Interchange. One use the change would add is a medical marijuana provisioning center.
The township board March 6 approved allowing grow operations on I-1 parcels and provisioning centers on C-3 lots, both further requiring Special Approval Uses. Grow facilities must have public utility connections and 500-foot buffers from lot lines of existing residential uses. Provisioning center SAU requirements are still being considered.
Schipper, Seros and Stewart, dba 236 Culver LLC, have told the township they plan a professional, odor-controlled growing operation inside a secure building designed to house 2,000 plants.
The owners expect to employ 10 people there, not including themselves.
Tammy Jacobi, who closed her Good Intentions Paving Co. medical marijuana business in the township in 2011 but has maintained a Chicago operation with that name since then, has for two years held an option on the 2.78-acre lot directly north of the Schipper et.al. parcel with plans of a provisioning center on it. Its C-3 zoning already allows that use.
An Illinois businessman sounded out major retail chains such as Walgreen and McDonald’s in 2013 to occupy the land Smith is now reviewing, but nothing came of it. The parcel has a rental home on it which might be demolished, but otherwise is unoccupied.
The township further March 6 approved medical marijuana safety compliance facilities in commercial and industrial zones. Recreational marijuana facilities are currently banned within township limits.
The City of Saugatuck has banned all marijuana facilities pending further planning commission study of how the state regulates recreational uses approved by voters Nov. 6. City council has asked planners to submit an update and report by Dec. 20.
Douglas, which opted in last year on medical marijuana, has licensed provisioning center in the former Bearco carwash, 435 Blue Star Hwy., and Old Farmhouse Antiques Store at 2918 Blue Star, both in the city’s C-2 General Commercial district. The city has yet to act on recreational marijuana.