Marijuana growers would be steered to west side under city plan

Medical marijuana growers and providers would be permitted to operate in certain industrial and commercial areas of the city, under a plan discussed Tuesday by the Battle Creek City Commission.

In a Commission workshop session at City Hall, members and the public looked over maps and plans regarding marijuana growing operations, sellers, transporters and others.

City attorney Jill Steele presented a potential plan that, for most licenses, would require a 1,000-foot distance between the marijuana business and parks, churches, child care facilities, residential areas and schools.

Eric Feldt of Battle Creek's Planning and Zoning department showed maps that located most of the qualifying locations would largely be located on the west side of the city in industrial areas, with some downtown and pockets south and east. 

There are also small pockets along Capital Avenue and Columbia Avenue.

Growing operations would be done in warehouse-like buildings, Feldt said. Dispensaries would be placed in business districts.

Under the plan, dispensaries also would have to be located 1,000 feet from other dispensaries.

Last year, Michigan created a process for licensing marijuana businesses that allows municipalities to regulate certain aspects of them. The state's licensing process is scheduled to be in place in December.

"This is a lot of information," City Manager Rebecca Fleury said. "It’s a lot of things for the City Commissioners to consider as far as this provision that the state of Michigan has put into place. We want to make sure they have all the information before we get to that point of voting."

The commission first started talking about the process in May.

There are five kinds of licenses the city can allow, Steele said. They are marijuana growers, processors, provisioning centers or dispensaries, secure transporters and safety compliance facilities.

"We could allow one, two, three, four or all five of them," Steele said. "If we choose to adopt an ordinance, we can’t impose regulations regarding the pricing or purity of the marijuana because that’s going to be up to the state."

The state's rules would allow the Battle Creek Police Department and the Michigan State Police to inspect facilities at any time, Steele said. 

City Commissioner Kate Flores said she'd like to see a public survey done, such as the one done to gauge opinion on urban farming earlier this year.

"I'd be curious to get more details on what our community wants," Flores said.

Contact Andy Fitzpatrick at 269-966-0697 or afitzpatrick@battlecreekenquirer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @am_fitzpatrick.

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