Saline City Council Considers Action on 3 Marijuana Business Proposals


Marijuana retail operations were at the heart of three agenda items taken up by Saline City Council Monday.

Council Approves SLU for 751 W. Michigan Ave.

Council voted unanimously to approve a special land use for an adult-use marijuana retailer at 751 W. Michigan Ave., the site of the former ice cream shop.

AM & BH Industries, LLC, represented by Shaun Mansouri, is developing 751 W. Michigan Ave., formerly the home of Mickey's Dairy Twist, on property owned by Romario Bahri. 

During  a public hearing, Ben Goodman complained the developer was not living up to conditions set by the planning commission. Among the broken promises, he said, are the failure to install a construction fence on site and taking four times longer than promised to install a sidewalk.

"They have not been harmonious with anybody on that side of the community at all," Goodman said. He urged council not to approve the SLU.

"Our children are at risk and we need to do something about this," he said.

Community Development Director Ben Harrington said not all conditions are met instantly and that the city doesn't require many of those requirements to be met until the completion of the project.

Mansouri said if all permits and construction go smoothly, Rush Cannabis should open within 60 days or so. It will be the second location for Rush.

"We're excited to partner with Saline," Mansouri said.

Mansouri said sidewalk delay, in part, was caused by an issue with MDOT.

The SLU was recommended unanimously by planning commission. Council voted 6-0 to approve the special land use with three conditions:

  • Confirming the number of employees onsite during a peak shift.
  • Confirm what kind of customer traffic that retail and medical sales may generate.
  • Removal of the non-conforming sign.

SLU for 7608 E. Michigan Ave. Deadlocked in 3-3 Vote

A second proposal for a special land use for an adult-use marijuana retailer did not pass. Nor did it fail. This one is planned for 7608 E. Michigan Ave., on the grassy parcel next to Tractor Supply.

Alexander Kriswetter, co-founder of The Woods, plans to build and open a 1,691-square-foot, single-story marijuana retail outlet.

Planning commission had recommended that council grant the special land use with several conditions.

This proposal did not get council's approval, however.

The ordinance requires that marijuana businesses are at least 1,000 feet from school property. Councillor Janet Dillon and Councillor Dean Girbach suggested that since the nearby Rentschler Farm Museum sometimes hosts students, the buffer should apply to this property. 

Councillor Jack Ceo said he was persuaded by the city attorney's opinion that "even though school kids go there (the Rentschler Farm), it's really not an education institution."

Dillon appeared to argue that the proximity to the Rentschler Farm could nix the proposal on the grounds that it's "not harmonious" with nearby uses.

"I do think that council should draw the line as to a special land use - that it is not harmonious in that it is too close to a learning environment," Dillon said.

Community Development Director Ben Harrington, in a memo to council, said nothing in the plan suggested the operation would cause issue with adjacent neighbors.

One neighboring business, however,  sent a statement to the city asking council not to approve the special land use. Clerk Terri Royal, during a public hearing, read a letter from a bank official saying it opposes the marijuana outlet and any signage or advertising that might be placed near the bank. The bank owns a parcel within the shopping center neighboring the property which would house the provisioning center. The bank also says it has a reciprocal easement agreement that prohibits bars, taverns, adult bookstores and other businesses that might not be seen as family-friendly along that easement.

Harrington, however, said that issue is not the purview of the city and would need to be handled privately between the parties.

Councillor Jim Dell'Orco said he was concerned that planning commission had three members absent when the proposal was passed. The SLU passed at planning commission by a 5-1 vote, with Girbach voting no.

At City Council, the vote was deadlocked, 3-3, with Dillon, Girbach and Dell'Orco voting now and Marl, Ceo and Kevin Camer0-Sulak voting yes. Councillor Dawn Krause, whose residency is in question, did not attend the meeting.

Council will reconsider the motion at its meeting Dec. 19.

Council Approves Amendments to Lot 20A Purchase Agreement

Counci voted 6-0 to approve the first amendment of its purchase agreement with Visio Clara, the company which owns the property and has plans to build a Lume Cannabis Co. outlet on Michigan Avenue on Lot 20A.

Lot 20A was the city's last piece of Michigan Avenue frontage for sale. The city hoped to sell it to a company with plans for a grocer, retail and restaurants. Then that developer came back with plans for senior housing. Finally, when those plans went nowhere, the city put the property on the market and found a party interested in buying the 6.5 acre property and building the Lume store.

As part of its due diligence, the developer has identified conditions that may impact the usability of the back portion of the property. The developer wants to extend the due diligence period to study the property further and work with city staff on the feasibility of alternative layouts.

The amended deal states the buyer can extend the due diligence period for up to three 30-day periods. Each extension would come with a non-refundable $10,000 deposit.

Years ago, when council was choosing between GBA Development LLC and IHA to develop the property, council turned away from IHA because the health care firm had no desire to buy the back half of the property.

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I missed this city council meeting but did learn at the last city planning meeting that there are actually 7 marijuana proposals that have been accepted by the City of Saline. Seven - for a city of less than 10,000 residents. 

It was said it isn't likely they'll all make it, but why can't the city attract and work harder to approve other types of businesses?

It seems a waste of time and resources for the city to go through the motions with these marijuana proposals. And let's hope the city does a better job supporting Huntington Bank's valid concerns and those of other established businesses in Saline.

Would hate to see banks and other core businesses relocate as the marijuana moves in.

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I thought we were a little town living next door to a big city.  It looks like we will have a marijuana business on every block up and down Michigan Ave.  Sad for Saline and its property owners.

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