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Monday, March 18,2013

Dispensary regulation

A medical marijuana dispensary regulation ordinance to be introduced Monday

by Andy Balaskovitz
Friday, June 10 — The Public Safety Committee is scheduled to introduce a medical marijuana dispensary regulation ordinance at Monday’s Lansing City Council meeting that would ban dispensaries from opening downtown but would allow new ones on Michigan Avenue east of Larch Street.

All existing businesses would be allowed to stay where they are. New ones or existing ones that want to move would be subject to the new ordinance.

The ordinance allows dispensaries in “F-1” commercial zones, which are found along the Michigan Avenue corridor but not downtown. Other F-1 zones include Grand River Avenue through Old Town.

The ordinance would repeal the moratorium, which is scheduled to expire July 1, on any new medical marijuana “establishments” and create a licensing process and zoning requirements for new businesses. Key provisions of the ordinance:


  • New businesses would be limited to F-1 commercial zoning and industrial zoning. Of the 37 dispensaries operating in the city, 16 are so zoned.

  • New dispensaries would have to be at least 1,000 feet away from each other and 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds, churches, “child care” organizations or substance abuse treatment facilities. However, existing businesses that don’t meet the distance requirements or the zoning requirements would be grandfathered in, but they must still apply for a license.

The ordinance would apply the following to all dispensaries — new and existing:


  • Hours of operation must be between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

  • No consumption “except for instructional purposes” on dispensary property.

  • Security cameras must be installed.

  • A drive-through window is allowed only if it was approved as part of the property’s original site plan.

  • A license through the City Clerk’s Office. Licenses may be issued only to individuals, limited liability companies and corporations, whether for-profit or nonprofit. Licenses are good for one year. The City Council would establish licensing fees.

  • Non-transferrable licenses. A business will become a “non-conforming use” if names on the application change. For an individual applicant, that means any other or additional names than what is on the application. If the applicant is not an individual — such as an LLC — it will become nonconforming if “no stakeholder of the applicant from the original application remains as stakeholder on a subsequent application.” For instance, a five-member board of a nonprofit may replace four of those five members over time, but as long as one original board member is part of the application, the business is in compliance.

The Council is scheduled to set June 20 for a public hearing. The Planning Board is scheduled to review the ordinance at a June 24 meeting and make a recommendation to the Council. Both the Planning Board and the Council can recommend changes to the ordinance before it is adopted.

In other scheduled business, the Council will hold a public hearing and vote on approving brownfield redevelopment plans for 1621 E. Michigan Ave., the site of a former Citgo gas station. The developer, Scott Gillespie, wants to build a three-story, mixed use building with retail and residential space.

The Council is also scheduled to approve Neighborhood Enterprise Zone certificates for 24 properties in the East Village housing development between Pennsylvania Avenue and Marshall Street on Lansing’s east side. The NEZ certificates are 12-year abatements on 50 percent of a property’s taxable value. NEZ certificates also freeze the taxable value of a property, even if the property owner makes improvements that increase the taxable value. These zones are established to “promote home ownership and investment” both in and around the zones, the Lansing Economic Development Corp. says on its website.

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