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Ferndale Planning Commission recommends approval for marijuana zoning changes

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 8, 2019

FERNDALE — The city of Ferndale continues to work toward allowing recreational marijuana businesses.

At its Oct. 2 meeting, Ferndale’s Planning Commission recommended for approval to the City Council zoning ordinance amendments for recreational marijuana facilities.

Marijuana businesses already have a footprint in Ferndale, with two medicinal establishments currently open and a third on the way, potentially later this month. For recreational marijuana, the city’s ordinance proposes allowing three retail businesses and one safety compliance center.

Mayor Dan Martin said the city is approaching recreational establishments the same as it did for medical marijuana, which also has a maximum limit of three licenses.

“We want a year or so to evaluate the impact on the city overall, and then we can redetermine or reassess if we want to allow more than that or not,” he said.

The ordinance would prohibit businesses from locating within 500 feet of schools, nursery schools and state-licensed day care facilities. The commission also removed a 500-foot distance requirement forbidding similar marijuana establishments from locating near each other.

What was recommended to the council is separate from regulatory ordinance amendments, which would outline how businesses apply for a license in Ferndale and the process. Martin said he has not seen a final proposal for those plans yet.

The regulatory ordinance also would state what is OK and not OK to sell at establishments, as far as paraphernalia.

“Right now, we’ve got rules around who can sell paraphernalia and who can’t, and there was some question brought up about if there isn’t some opportunity to look at our enforcement of that,” Martin said. “We want to make sure that we’re tight with those rules and we understand them and where that’s allowed and where it’s not.”

The two medical marijuana businesses that have opened in Ferndale are LIV, 2625 Hilton Road, and Gage Cannabis Co., 1551 Academy St. According to City Planner Justin Lyons, a third at 1921 Hilton Road called Green Buddha will open in the next month.

Lyons said the three existing provisioning centers will be permitted and that the new draft ordinance recommends allowing co-location of medical marijuana and recreational retailers, meaning they can exist in the same building.

However, the state administrative rules that have been guiding Ferndale, Lyons stated, say that when it comes time for the state to accept applicants, those that have an existing medical marijuana license that has already been approved by the state will be prioritized first.

“If you’re a facility that didn’t have that then, you would be lower on the state’s priority list,” he said.

Lyons said he’s heard that the existing medical facilities intend to apply for recreational licenses.

The City Council is expected to review the zoning amendments at its second meeting of the month, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, at City Hall.