City will have at least five marijuana dispensaries; more to come before commission
The Three Rivers City Commission approved three special exception use permits for three additional marijuana dispensaries during its regular meeting on Monday, November 1. The city previously granted two SEU permits to two other dispensaries located on either side of US-131.
Among those granted SEU permits Monday was “Daly Dope,” a marijuana retail establishment to be located at 113 Portage Ave. in downtown Three Rivers. Daly Dope was the first proposed dispensary to face significant opposition, with public comments and discussion among commissioners lasting the better part of an hour. What made this particular dispensary such a hot button issue was its location, more specifically its proximity to the Three Rivers Public Library and the surrounding residential area.
Multiple residents raised concerns about children walking past the establishment en route to the library or downtown, the potential for easier access to marijuana for children and teens, and even increased risk for addiction and drug abuse. A 4th Avenue resident and a retired medical social worker for Sturgis Hospital said he was concerned about the location and what it would do to the youth in the area, while Jerry Solis, a candidate for 59th District State Representative, said the business’s location and the fact that it’s a cash only business make it a prime candidate for robberies.
Commissioner Pat Dane, who represented the lone dissenting vote on each of the three SEU permits, said she views downtown Three Rivers as a “family place,” and the presence of a marijuana dispensary would detract from an otherwise family friendly environment. Commissioners Daryl Griffith and Chris Abel said they had concerns about the location but would vote in support of the permit because the business had met all of the requirements. Abel and Commissioner Clayton Lyczynski said they “hated the name Daly Dope” and suggested the business consider a name change before opening its doors.
Daly Broekema, owner of Daly Lash & Spa and Daly Dope, addressed the commission Monday to alleviate some of those concerns. “I love living here, I have a passion for bettering it,” Broekema said. “The reason I bought 113 was because I wanted to renew it, help the downtown. The application being presented to you is unique as it’s the only application so far that provides for a boutique retail establishment in our historic downtown, and is owned by an invested stakeholder in our community. I plan to annually donate $2,500 to our DDA and $500 to our Three Rivers Area Community Foundation, and my operation will employ 10-15 full-time, local employees.”
Broekema said measures are being taken to ensure tight security, as well as limiting access to the product she’ll be selling. She also addressed concerns over parking, stating her business is in close proximity to 316 public parking spaces, including “the large parking lot behind Landmark (Taphouse & Grille), the small lot directly behind Rooster’s (Wing Shack), the north city parking lot between Little Caesar’s and the Carnegie Center, and street front parking.” She added that only four customers will be allowed in the retail space at a time, and said it’s not the kind of business where “people will be inside for a long time shopping.”
Attorney Luke Nofsinger also addressed the commission Monday in favor of Daly Dope and Broekema. He said the marijuana would not be visible to children passing by, nor would children be allowed to enter the premises. A Spring Street resident said Daly will contribute to the downtown and the city at-large financially, and maybe even more importantly, her business will fill a vacant downtown storefront. A Portage Avenue resident and clinical psychologist said we need to “increase pathways, and decrease barriers” to the regulated use of marijuana, as it is a harm reduction mechanism to the opioid dependent, which is a wide-spread problem throughout the county.
Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Tricia Meyer said Broekema’s business will provide a “unique opportunity (for downtown) to benefit from a safe, regulated cannabis business owned by a local stake holder.” Commissioner Alison Haigh said she was “100 percent in support of (Daly’s Dope)” for several reasons but especially because “we have to fill vacant buildings downtown.”
Following the approval of Daly’s Dope, Attitude Wellness (203 S. Tolbert Drive), and Joyology (1320 Millard St.) dispensaries, the commission agreed to close the application window for dispensaries as the city is already set to have five marijuana retail locations with at least a handful midway through the application process. The city will allow those that have already paid the application fee to continue the SEU permit process but will put a moratorium on future applications until January 1, 2023. In the meantime, City Attorney J. Patrick O’Malley will gather information on potential legal ramifications of setting a cap on the number of dispensaries allowed within city limits, and present an opinion to commissioners before the moratorium is lifted in 2023.
Alek Haak-Frost is executive editor of Watershed Voice.