Marijuana business opportunities proposed for Muskegon’s Lakeside district

Shaun H. Ruff

MUSKEGON, MI – An expansion of recreational marijuana business opportunities into the Lakeside Business District has been proposed by Muskegon city officials.

Staff is suggesting that grow facilities up to 500 plants, microbusinesses that involve on-site growing and sales, and consumption establishments be allowed in commercial areas along Lakeshore Drive in Lakeside.

The Muskegon Planning Commission tabled the request last week, directing staff to send letters to neighboring property owners about the proposal.

Muskegon already has several areas zoned for recreational marijuana establishments, primarily in an area along and near Laketon Avenue east of Seaway Drive. It also allows cannabis operations in many other areas of the city with a special use permit.

Special use permits – given by the planning commission – would be needed for marijuana operations in the Lakeside district under the staff proposal.

Also included in the proposal are medical grow operations of up to 500 plants, medical caregivers and temporary marijuana events.

The city allows the same types of marijuana businesses proposed for Lakeside in areas where medical caregivers are allowed. Those are areas zoned as business and industrial districts.

The suggested inclusion of Lakeside in the marijuana business opportunities was triggered following a change in zoning of that area to “form-based code” that didn’t provide for medical caregivers. A fix for the Lakeside zoning was needed to allow for a medical marijuana caregiver already operating in Lakeside, Muskegon Planning Director Mike Franzak told MLive.

Franzak said the city is proposing to allow cannabis businesses in Lakeside that are “pretty non-intrusive.” In addition, the proposed license types have not proven to be very popular, he said.

Microbusinesses are allowed to grow up to 150 plants, the marijuana from which may then be processed into oil, edibles or other marijuana products, packaged and sold from a retail shop. They are not allowed to purchase cannabis products from other businesses for resale.

Making such a business profitable has proven difficult without substantial financial backing, Franzak said. The city has approved a microbusiness for 623 and 639 W. Clay Ave. in downtown, though state records show a license has not been issued for that location.

There are 37 properties in Lakeside that are designated for commercial uses and would be available for cannabis businesses with special use permits if the planning commission agrees. Those include several vacant storefronts and buildings.

The planning commission is expected to consider the staff recommendation for Lakeside marijuana businesses in October.

Last year, it rejected a proposal to allow marijuana operations on three properties at the corner of Lakeshore and McCracken Street in Lakeside.

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