Berkley reveals scores for marijuana business applicants

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 6, 2020

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BERKLEY — The city of Berkley has revealed its scores for businesses that have applied for marijuana business licenses, and three will be moving forward to the site-planning phase.

On Sept. 29, the city posted on its website the scores for 30 businesses that applied to obtain a marijuana business license. The scoring began at the end of June by Berkley’s internal marijuana team of City Manager Matt Baumgarten, Public Safety Director Matt Koehn, Community Development Director Erin Schlutow and Public Policy Assistant Daniel Hill.

The top three scoring applicants, who could have obtained a maximum of 315 points, were Quality Roots Inc. with 310, Operation Grow with 301, and Attitude Wellness with 301. Quality Roots has a proposed business address at 3916 W. 11 Mile Road; Operation Grow, which will be operating its business as “butter,” has its proposed address at 2222 W. 11 Mile Road; and Attitude Wellness, which will operate its business as “Lume,” proposes to be located at 1949 12 Mile Road.

The businesses were scored on 18 different variables, such as if the business was able to demonstrate its ability to successfully operate a marijuana business and if the application proposes the redevelopment of a vacant or underused building or property.

The minimum score a business needed to move forward within the city’s process was 221, which 20 of the 30 businesses met. Seven businesses did not move to the scoring phase of the application process due to them either not clearing a pass/fail requirement check or a businesses did not submit all required documents and information during a completeness check.

Baumgarten said each of the different aspects in the scoring matrix carried a different point total, and that was done based on relative importance to the city’s goals in its overall process.

“You could have something that came down to (how) an applicant differentiated themselves by one particular item, but that item could be anywhere from two points to 25 points, and so that was a potential outcome that we knew going into it. We saw it on occasion, but again, it just depended on what an applicant did not offer in their application and how that ranked with our scoring process,” he said.

Aric Klar, owner of Quality Roots, previously had been a Berkley resident for seven years before moving earlier this year. He was scheduled to open his first store in Battle Creek in March, though that was delayed a month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Klar, who also owns and operates Toyology Toys, said this would be a scary time to open a store, but he feels prepared to do so in Berkley because of the practice he had getting his Battle Creek location ready after the pandemic began.

“There (were) so many nuances and new things we had to do to get ready to keep our businesses rolling with no issues,” he said. “While I see the business being able to be successful quickly, I think it’s because of how safe we’ve already been able to run a current business in this same variable environment. I think we’re very comfortable and very able and very excited to be able to offer that as fast as possible.”

The businesses now will begin their site plan approval processes with the Planning Commission. If their plans are approved, they will go before the City Council for one more approval before going to the state to pursue their licenses.

Scores are valid for 180 days after Sept. 29, said Baumgarten. If, for some reason, something happens to one of the businesses during this process, the next ranked applicant will be considered by the city. In the case where there is a tie on the list, Baumgarten said that would be rectified by a lottery system.

“That’s specifically why we rank order them,” he said. “That’s why applicants get a chance to see exactly where they are on that list. If they find themselves fourth, it’s on them to watch this process closely and if one of the applicants is unable to obtain site plan approval or if anything really comes up in this process, then they understand that we’ll be contacting them as the next person in line to begin that same process.

“If, for some reason, we had to go to the next applicant up, there would be a little bit of leeway in that timeline,” he continued. “Our residents can expect us to be able to move through this in the next six months.”