On Monday, the Lowell Planning Commission met at Creekside Park to review a site plan for 126 S. West Street. The property is located behind the Speedway gas station and across from the Betten Baker Chrysler dealership.
The site plan proposed constructing a 40’ by 60’ pole barn on the 0.3 acre lot, and the applicant noted the final use of the building would be a marijuana growing establishment and dispensary. However, the owner of the property, Klosner Properties LLC, plans to apply for a marijuana special land use permit at a future date so the only issue before the Planning Commission was a review of the building itself.
The lot is currently zoned C-3, and the applicant is proposing to use the building for a mix of retail and warehouse space. Andy Moore, a consultant to the Planning Commission from engineering firm Williams & Works, explained at the start of the review that while retail is allowed by right in the C-3 district, warehousing is not. What’s more, a number of items, such as the front yard setback, lighting and utility plans, were missing from the site plan.
“If the plan has all these incompletions, why are we wasting our time?” asked Commissioner Colin Plank. “Are we going to get to the end and say, well it sounds good, but you’re going to have to come back with all these things?”
“In the past, there are instances…where the city has approved a less than complete site plan because a bunch of the information is known,” Moore replied.
Shawn Bowne, the project contractor, said the lighting would be affixed to the building and would meet code. He also mentioned that the parking lot dimensions would be standard, and there are utility lines already running to the property from when a house was located there.
During discussion on the site plan standards, commissioners raised concerns about these and other issues. Commissioner Tony Ellis said he would like to see a more complete parking lot layout beyond the placement of the parking spaces. Chair Bruce Barker noted there is no proposed landscaping or fencing on the south side of the lot to provide a buffer between the business and nearby residences. Several members also commented on the steel paneling proposed for the building and said they would prefer an exterior that looked less industrial.
“My thought on this is that I would prefer to table [the site plan] until October,” Barker said. “Frankly, I just don’t feel that I’ve got enough information here to adequately approve this at this point.” Other commissioners agreed that there was too much unknown to make a decision. Plus, it was noted that a warehouse might not be possible on the lot.
Ryan Klosner, who owns the property, said he would like to scratch the suggestion of a warehouse since it seemed to cause confusion. “What if I had put storage? Retail and storage?” he asked. When commissioners suggested he meet with Moore to discuss the matter further, Klosner replied he had already done so.
The commission unanimously voted to table the site plan so the applicant could provide requested information and clarifications in October.
Prior to the conclusion of the meeting, Moore noted there would likely also be two public hearings in October. One would be regarding the Grand Rapids Gravel property on Bowes Road, and the second would be for an application for a new marijuana business on Main Street near the Ada Lowell 5.
“I have a question about the numerous applications for a marijuana [business],” Ellis said. “What is drawing them to Lowell?”
“You’re the only municipality that allows them,” Moore replied.
Plank said the Planning Commission could only determine if applicants met the requirements of the ordinance and could not dictate how many marijuana businesses to allow. Moore noted there was some discussion during joint meetings of the Lowell City Council and Planning Commission about whether to cap the number of marijuana businesses in town, but the consensus was to let the market decide.
The next regular meeting of the Lowell Planning Commission will be Monday, October 12, at 7pm.