Planning Commission Reflections for 10-13-15

No one spoke at the public forum at the October 13 Planning Commission meeting.  We proceeded with the first public hearing on the agenda, a request for a special regulated use permit to open a medical marijuana provisioning center at 6200 N. Dort Hwy.  We spent about an hour getting clarification from the applicant about various aspects of the request including an overview of proposed operations, the security plan, building layout, signage, and ownership structure.  There were a few items presented verbally that needed to be revised in the written materials.  These items were noted as requiring administrative review prior to issuing a permit.  No one from the public spoke in favor of or against the request, but there was one email comment read aloud opposing medical marijuana provisioning centers in general.  The Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the permit pending administrative review of the written revisions.

The second public hearing was to add growing medical marijuana on-site at a provisioning center that previously got a permit for non-growing operations at 408 Center Rd.  In this case, the applicant was not there and did not communicate that they had to miss the meeting.  The application itself lacked sufficient information about the security plan.  Based on a commissioner’s drive past the facility, it appears that the current signage may not comply with the signage parameters that came with the original special regulated use permit (by having many temporary signs, a big, billowing inflatable on the roof, and covering windows with signs).  Besides presenting a problem related to complying with prior agreements, the window covering presents a potential public safety issue.  We have been informed by the police department that for dispensaries, it is important to keep windows clear to allow police to see into the building, and accordingly, that expectation has been part of all past permits.  Because of these concerns, we voted unanimously to deny the permit to add growing operations.  In addition, building safety inspectors are being asked to inspect the property for any zoning violations.

The two cases illustrate the criteria that the Planning Commission can use to decide on special regulated use permits.  The permits cannot be granted or denied based on whether commissioners like a type of business, but whether the applicant can demonstrate that they meet the requirements of the ordinance.  The locational standards are set (such as being within specific zoning districts and not being within a certain range of a school, religious institution, or park) and if that is in place, the Planning Commission can only deny a request if it fails to meet one or more of the five following requirements that the proposed use:

  1. Is compatible with adjacent uses of land.
  2. Is consistent with and promotes the intent of the zoning ordinance, master plan, and other adopted plans.
  3. Is compatible with the natural environment.
  4. Is consistent with the capabilities of public services and facilities.
  5. Not be a detriment to public health, safety or welfare.

In other words, the first application was approved because it met all 5 of these standards and the locational requirements.  The second one was denied because the applicant did not demonstrate how it was consistent with numbers 2 and 5.

In other news… the Planning Commission Chair and the Lead Planner accepted an award from the Michigan Association of Planning for the Imagine Flint Master Plan on behalf of the Flint community.  The award was presented at a state conference in Detroit.

As a Planning Commission, we are looking to get underway with updating the Capital Improvement Plan.  State law requires such a plan to be adopted annually, and getting to it now gives the administration and city council time to consider it when putting together the budget for next year.

Lastly, there is additional information about the Choice Neighborhoods South Flint Community Plan workshop slated for Tuesday, October 20 at the Brennan Center from 6-8 pm.  The focus of this workshop will be on designing a project logo, identifying key assets in the southeast part of Flint, and building positive momentum for the effort.  A free shuttle is available to take participants to and from the meeting.  It will depart Atherton East at 5:20, Evergreen Regency at 5:30, and Howard Estates at 5:45.  Food is provided, and the event is family-friendly so feel free to bring your kids.  For more information, contact Kristen Stevenson at 810-766-7426 extension 2065 or visit the project website at  Spread the word to others, especially those who live in the southeast part of Flint or have a stake in that area.


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