Planning Commission Recap: New Union Plan Approved, Marijuana Shops Tabled

The Lowell Planning Commission held its July meeting on Monday night and met for approximately 50 minutes to discuss four agenda items.

Commissioners Colin Plank and Dave Cadwallader were not present, and their absence was excused. Joining the remaining commissioners and city staff were seven people who sat in on the meeting as members of the audience.

Annual Review of City Airbnb

The first item on the agenda was a review of a special land use permit for an Airbnb rental property on Gee Drive. The property has been used for short-term rentals for serval years, and the commission included an annual review as one condition when approving the initial application for this use.

In a letter to the commission, owner John Baar noted there had been no incidents on the property, and he was informing the Lowell Police Department and Lowell Area Fire Department of upcoming guest stays, as required by the special land use permit.

Baar requested that the commission increase the number of vehicles allowed on the property to eight, but commissioners declined to make that change.

Revised Plan for New Union Brewery’s Outdoor Space

Last November, New Union Brewery received approval for an outdoor seating area. However, after further consideration, the popular business on the corner of Main and Hudson Streets has altered its plans.

Originally, the plans called for extending the roof of the existing building to create a covered space. But New Union Brewery has found that its current outdoor space is windy and loud and would benefit from some type of barrier. The owners also want something that would be more aesthetically appealing.

The new plan calls for using storage containers to create a courtyard. Similar containers are used at John Ball Zoo, The Deck in Muskegon and Sovengard in Grand Rapids. The new design would provide a buffer to the wind and outside noise as well as create covered seating and new green spaces.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the revised site plan for New Union Brewery. Among the conditions of the approval was that asphalt be used for the parking lot.

Marijuana Business Applications Tabled

Also on the agenda were two applications for marijuana businesses.

The first application was for 2384 W. Main Street, which currently houses Galaxy Signs & Awards and Cascade Home Improvement. NU Group LLC from Center Line, Michigan is proposing a retail marijuana establishment for the property. A representative from NU Group was not present at the meeting, and as a result, the planning commission tabled the application until August.

The second application was for 126 S. West Street, which is located behind Speedway. This site has been vacant for some time, and the planning commission approved a site plan last October that allowed for a building to be constructed there.

BTD Holdings LLC of Lansing, Michigan is proposing to open Iconic Wellness & Provisioning Center at the site. A representative of the business told commissioners it would be open seven days a week and expects to have 25-30 employees in total.

For security, the entirety of the interior and exterior of the building – with the exception of restrooms – would be under constant surveillance. All products sold in the facility would be pre-packaged so odors should not be a concern. What’s more, there will be carbon filters installed and negative pressure used to further minimize the possibility of any odor outside the building.

As proposed, the site would have 12 parking spots, of which three are for employees. The applicant noted electric charging stations would be installed on some sites.

Commissioners were concerned the number of parking spaces may be inadequate. For previous marijuana applications, the commission has required businesses to have an agreement with nearby property owners to secure overflow parking that can be used as needed.

After brief discussion, it was decided to ask the applicant to make arrangements for additional parking and return in August, and the application was tabled.

Public hearings were scheduled to be held on both applications in July but those will now be held in August instead.

The next regular meeting of the Lowell Planning Commission will take place on August 9, 2021 at 7pm in City Hall.

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