Saturday, July 11, 2020

What we know about East Lansing dispensary applicants

April 11, 2019
<p>Marijuana is pictured Feb. 20, 2019.</p>

Marijuana is pictured Feb. 20, 2019.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

Only one out of four dispensary applicants vying for a location on East Grand River Avenue will receive a permit from the East Lansing City Council April 23, joining three that were approved March 26.

Councilmembers want to determine which site plan is the best, whether it be for providing the easiest access, the best odor control, or the greatest benefit to the public. The city council set the special meeting for April 23 to issue a final decision on the situation.

Prior experience

ABCD Properties LLC and Fresh Coast Provisioning LLC, requesting 1108 E. Grand River Ave., are listed as the owners on its application.

James Daly and Brian Doelle own EL Grand. They already manage three Ann Arbor medical marijuana businesses including a growing operation, a testing facility and a dispensary. They were one of the first companies to receive state approval for a dispensary and are vertically integrated operators.

Darren Naimi and Marvin Karana own DNVK. Naimi has operated retail businesses and residential properties. Karana is an attorney with practice in commercial and residential law who also has experience managing commercial properties.

Steve Schafer owns CA-East Lansing, which is requesting 1234 E. Grand River Ave. Schafer owns a dispensary in Kalkaska and is in the process of receiving a state license for a dispensary in Mount Pleasant.

Parking

Each property requires adequate parking spaces for employees and customers. ABCD, EL Grand and DNVK each require six parking spaces. CA-East Lansing proposes 13 spaces, but the site plan requires 25.

City code prevents remodeling in a way that increases the parking requirement. However, the city council can waive this requirement if they deem the building historically or culturally significant.

“In the absence of such exception, the use will be limited in scope as to not require more than 15 parking spaces,” according to the city's staff report.

EL Grand and DNVK meet the six-space requirement, with EL Grand’s site at a current Valvoline proposing 13 spaces and DNVK’s site at a current Subway proposing nine spaces.

ABCD Properties does not meet the requirement, with four parking spaces listed on its site plan.

Robert Ford, landscape architect for ABCD Properties, said the developers have acquired four additional spaces leased at 927 E. Grand River Ave. for employee parking. The property is about a five-minute walk from the proposed dispensary site and would satisfy the six-space parking requirement.

Odor

Most dispensaries' plans to address the smell of marijuana are similar. EL Grand’s published plan for odor control has a three-pronged approach including pre-packaged products, carbon filters and containment of areas with product.

DNVK has a similar strategy, utilizing design measures to seal the building and including carbon filters in air purification systems.

One requirement for special use permit approval is that dispensaries cannot affect adjacent properties by generating odors or any other form of nuisance.

Philanthropy

Each applicant is required to donate either $5,000 or 1 percent of generated revenue to a charity organization.

DNVK has signed an agreement donating $40,000 annually to Jewish Spartans of East Lansing.

ABCD, EL Grand and CA-East Lansing all indicated to city officials that they are working on agreements with area charities.

Logistical concerns

Federal law doesn’t just prohibit students from smoking on campus. Because the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, or MSUFCU, is federally chartered, it is prohibited from engaging in marijuana banking, MSUFCU President April Clobes said.

“It is difficult to bank them,” she said. “That creates a cash economy.”

MSUFCU cannot hire anyone who uses recreational or medical marijuana, Clobes said.

Councilmember Aaron Stephens said most who have reached out to him are supportive of new dispensaries. He said he encourages more student feedback on the competition between dispensaries.

“This is an area where legalization of marijuana has passed with flying colors, so that’s also something we should take into account,” he said.

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