Adrian officials discuss reducing marijuana dispensary licenses in business districts

Dmitriy Shapiro

| The Daily Telegram

ADRIAN — As recreational marijuana dispensaries continue to open in Adrian, city officials are discussing future limits on how many can be in the business districts.

The discussion brought to the Adrian City Commission during its premeeting Monday by commissioner Brad Watson also included adding libraries to the list of places from which dispensaries would have to be a certain distance.

Watson said multiple residents have come to him saying that the city may have reached its capacity without even having reached the limit of 10 licenses it allows in the city’s business district.

Watson, who said he is not opposed to the facilities doing business in and succeeding in the city, offered two proposals for amending the city’s ordinances.

The first, he said, was to include libraries as part of the list of facilities in the city’s ordinance with a defined distance a dispensary has to be distant from.

City administrator Greg Elliott reminded the commission of the total license limits in the Business-1 (B-1) and Business-2 (B-2) districts, but said the city does not have a license limit in its industrial overlays. These are subject to distance criteria requiring them to be 1,000 feet, 250 feet, or not be adjacent to places such as schools, churches or daycare centers.

Watson mentioned a dispensary that is planned in the former Tangles Salon building on West Maumee Street adjacent to the Lenawee District Library.

Watson proposed the ordinance be changed to include libraries among the places with required setbacks from dispensaries and that such marijuana businesses that are in those areas now be grandfathered in. But if the businesses go away, the setbacks for libraries would be enforced if another business decides to open. This would also not apply if the license holder sells their business to someone else, but that business would be a nonconforming use and not be able to expand, according to Elliott.

The other request made by Watson is that the maximum number of licenses being offered by the city in the business districts be slowly whittled down when a marijuana facility license goes dormant for a certain amount of time.

“I want to recognize and encourage successful businesses. And so I want these businesses to be able to perpetuate, to sell their businesses to the next proprietor, stay in the marijuana business,” Watson said.

If dispensaries are shuttered without being sold to another proprietor, after six months of no activity the maximum number of licenses allowed in the city will be reduced by one until, Watson proposed, it reaches a maximum closer five.

Elliott also reminded the commission that the number of dispensaries that can open in the overlay district is unlimited, as long as they are part of the same parcel and operated by the same owners as a grow facility. This, he said, was done so that the city did not have to create a competitive process for its licenses.

Commissioner Allan Heldt said he thought the city’s acceptance of marijuana facilities is showing dividends, as the city will receive approximately $168,000 in excise tax from recreational sales by these businesses this year.

“Do I think 10 is too many? I don’t know yet. I can’t really give a position on that,” Heldt said. “… I think they’re showing dividends. I think these are good proprietors. They’ve redone the buildings, the parking lots are always in good shape. But do I think 10 is too many? I don’t know.”

Commissioner Lad Strayer, while saying he understood where Watson was coming from, has heard the opposite from residents about the marijuana facilities.

“I think that demand for the product will ultimately dictate how all of this plays out. I think things have gone very well in the time that these businesses have been in town. And as time goes on, I think there are going to be fewer and fewer people that have the perception that it’s not good for Adrian,” Strayer said. “… I haven’t heard any negative comments. In fact, I talked with a neighbor to one of the South Main (Street) businesses a couple of days ago, and that business commented on what good neighbors they’ve been.”

Commissioner Gordon Gauss agreed with Watson, saying he always believed 10 licenses was too many for the city, but was even more worried about the unlimited number allowed in the overlay districts. Still, he agreed that would be preferable to having a competitive bid process for licenses if a limit was put in for the overlay.

City attorney Tamaris Henagan told the commission that three additional facilities are planned for the overlay districts and two more will soon open in the business district, including in the Tangles building and another facility next to Taco Bell on South Main.

The commission’s discussion ended with no consensus and will likely be brought up at a later pre-meeting.

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