Marijuana consumption lounges will not be coming to a downtown Three Rivers storefront near you, at least not any time soon. The Three Rivers City Commission voted 4-2 against an amendment to the city’s marijuana ordinance Tuesday that would have allowed such an establishment in the central (B-3) business zoning district following a public hearing.
Mayor Tom Lowry and Commissioner Torrey Brown represented the two votes in favor of the proposed amendment, while Commissioners Pat Dane, Chris Abel, Carolyn McNary, and Lucas Allen voted against. Commissioner Steven Haigh didn’t cast a vote as he was absent.
Public comments Tuesday were wholly in support of consumption lounges, with educational benefits, increased foot traffic downtown, and the safe, legal place it would provide customers to use marijuana cited as reasons.
Following the public hearing, Dane, who has been the most vocal among commissioners in her disapproval of the proposed amendment, said all of the constituents she spoke to about the matter were strongly against consumption lounges, and feared what it would do to downtown Three Rivers.
“I had several, several phone calls, personal visits and emails from citizens of Three Rivers not wanting the (marijuana lounge proposal) to go through, and especially because it’s downtown,” she said.
Dane added that so much work has went into making downtown Three Rivers family friendly, and “this isn’t really what we want children to be exposed to.” She said marijuana is not “a part of our vision” for downtown, and not one person she spoke to was in favor of it.
Following Tuesday’s meeting Watershed Voice reached out to Daly Broekema, owner of Daly Dope (113 Portage Ave.), regarding the commission’s decision. Broekema, who got the process started by submitting an application for a SEU (Special Exception Use) permit for zoning business district B-3 to include marijuana consumption lounges, said she was disappointed with the commission’s decision.
“I think it’s really unfortunate for our community that some of the commission members have such outdated views,” she said. “I’m disappointed with their decision but excited for the new direction we will be taking with the building’s unutilized space.”
Alek Haak-Frost is executive editor and publisher of Watershed Voice.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include a comment from Daly Broekema at 2:10 p.m.