East Lansing Allows But Limits Dispensaries

By: Sherene Tagharobi Email
By: Sherene Tagharobi Email

East Lansing's medical marijuana moratorium may be over but don't expect to see dispensaries next to clothing shops or restaurants any time soon.

"There was a lot of concern originally from residents that Lake Lansing would be a corridor of dispensaries like Michigan ave is and that really can't happen," said Darcy Schmitt, planning and zoning administrator for the city.

It won't happen because the city ordinance limits dispensaries to the B-4 district, mostly made up of medical and professional offices.

"They're more concentrated on the northwest side of the city," said Schmitt of the B-4 zoned areas.

And within the district, dispensaries can't come within 500 feet of each other. All these restrictions don't sit well with people like Jeff Hank, who hoped to set up shop on Grand River Avenue.

"They want to stick everybody out on the north side of town where none of the population is," Hank said. "Patients dont wanna go out there, there's a lack of available space to begin with, then you deal with the landlord issue, and the zoning issue, where there's a buffer between the dispensaries. It essentially is exclusionary zoning."

Schmitt said there will be no dispensaries allowed south of Saginaw Highway in the city. One B-4 pocket where they will be allowed is on Abbot and Lake Lansing. It's not the busiest part of town but city officials say that's exactly the point.

"We're not looking for this to be a storefront type operation. We feel this is more a medical type operation and we feel it should be done in a discreet way," Schmitt said.

But most buildings with space or desire to rent to dispensaries aren't in the B-4 district.

"Here you have an empty place that's been empty for months on the main street in East Lansing and the city's own policies are going to keep it empty," Hank said.

East Lansing planners have already been fielding calls from people who want to take advantage of this ordinance. A lot of those calls are coming from people who already have dispensaries in Lansing -- but it's a different process in East Lansing.

Starting April 6 you can apply for a special use permit. There's a $1000 base fee for that plus another $25 per square foot. Once that comes through, which should take around three months, you also have to get a business permit.

And with that 500-foot mandatory buffer between dispensaries, it's first, come first serve.


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