Planning Commission Recap: Marijuana Grow Facility Approved – Again

The Lowell Planning Commission met for approximately 50 minutes on Monday night to address one application for a marijuana grow facility at 2335 W. Main Street. All commissioners were present for the session except Mike Gadula, whose absence was excused.

The marijuana application was submitted by Five Lakes Farm, and the business originally received approval from the Lowell Planning Commission in the summer of 2020. However, per the city ordinance, if construction on a site has not begun within a year, approval of a site plan expires and a business must return to the planning commission for re-approval.

In the case of Five Lakes Farm, the application was before the Lowell Planning Commission in October but questions were raised about whether the business would need to hook into a city sewer line or if it could use an on-site septic system.

City ordinance requires businesses connect to the city system if they are within 200 feet of a sewer line. For this property, the closest sewer line is 260 feet to the north and would require an easement from an adjoining property owner.

Andrea Hendrick, who represented Five Lakes Farm at the meeting, said the business has been in conversations with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy about approvals for an on-site septic system. She requested that the Planning Commission approve the site plan that shows the grow facility hooking into the sewer system and, if deemed appropriate, add a condition that a septic system could be used instead if an agreement could be reached with EGLE.

Commissioners seemed inclined to prefer the business be connected to the city system and made that a condition of their approval. They also added a condition about using the most odor control possible given the facility’s location next to a church.

The application was unanimously approved by commissioners, subject to these and other conditions.

At the conclusion of the meeting, City Manager Mike Burns shared that a bill had passed the Michigan House of Representatives which would effectively negate the city’s short term rental ordinance. Currently, the city requires homeowners to obtain a special land use permit if they wanted to rent out their property on sites such as VRBO or Airbnb.

As currently written, House Bill 4722 would allow short term rentals by right on all residential properties and restrict the ability of local governments to regulate the use of homes for this purpose. The bill is currently awaiting further action in the Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform.

The next regular meeting of the Lowell Planning Commission will take place on Monday, December 13, at 7pm.

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