During their latest regular meeting at city hall on Monday, Jan. 13, the Lowell city planning commission unanimously approved site plan review and special land use requests from Meds Café, the recreational marijuana store that is opening in the old Family Video at 1965 W. Main. It will be the first recreational marijuana store in Kent County, and at this point they intend to open for business sometime in February.
According to the city's website, the planning commission is responsible for “developing and updating a master plan and reviewing proposed development plans to ensure compliance with the zoning ordinance.” The seven members of the planning commission are Bruce Barker (chair), David Cadwallader, Marty Chambers, Anthony Ellis, Michael Gadula, Colin Plank and Amanda Schrauben.
Andy Moore, an urban planner with Williams and Works, led the planning commission through the complex bureaucratic process required to approve the requests. Issues resolved included landscaping, lighting, parking, noise, odors, security, deliveries, waste, traffic flow and signage.
The store will be open from 9 am until 9 pm seven days a week. Although those over 21 will be able to purchase marijuana products, it will not be permitted to consume them on the premises, including the store's parking lot.
Meds Café owner Michael Atkins attended the meeting, along with his legal representative, Andrea Hendrick. They said they have met with neighboring businesses to address questions and concerns, primarily regarding the possibility of heavy crowds like those seen in Ann Arbor on opening day.
The first day of legal sales in Michigan was Dec. 1, 2019. In Ann Arbor that day, people began lining up at 5 am outside of the three stores that would be selling the products. A fourth opened later in the evening. Over 2,200 people eventually made purchases after waiting in line for several hours. Some were turned away when supplies ran out. A story in the Dec. 2, 2019 edition of the Detroit Free Press estimated opening day sales at $221,000 between the locations.
“We anticipate there may be a large influx of people,” Hendrick said. “We're unsure, it may not happen at all, but in anticipation of what happened in Ann Arbor when the first recreational store opened, we have worked with all of our neighbors.”
The Lowell city planning commission's next meeting will be at city hall at 7 pm on Monday, Feb. 10.
To watch city council, board and commission meetings from the past few years, look for the "City of Lowell" or "Lowell Light and Power" channels on YouTube or visit archive.org.