Niles City Council grants license to medical marijuana business

Published 9:50 am Wednesday, May 22, 2019

NILES – On Monday, Niles City Council approved business Green Stem, LLC for a license to operate medical marijuana growing and processing facilities.

Green Stem, currently based in Oakland County’s Orion Township, has its sights set on renovating the grounds of the former Simplicity Pattern Company on Wayne Street for growing and processing.

The company had already been approved by the council on April 8 to operate a provisioning center within city limits. Green Stem hopes to sell medical marijuana products on the property of Sparkle Quik Lube on South 11th Street. Sparkle Quik Lube plans to move to a new location.

The growing and processing licensure resolution passed 7-1, with councilwoman Georgia Boggs voting the sole “No.”

Boggs has voted “No” on medical marijuana resolutions in the past. During an April 8 meeting, she questioned whether someone who holds a medical marijuana card would be hirable. She also noted that 35 percent of Niles voters did not support allowing medical marijuana facilities in the city.

On Monday, Boggs clarified why she wanted the consideration of medical marijuana facilities to not move fast.

“The state of Michigan has not come through with all of the regulations that they have,” she said. “So, therefore, we’re moving cautiously, trying to find out how to make sure we make the right moves.”

Councilman John DiCostanzo disagreed with the pacing.

“I don’t think we’re moving too fast. We’re about two, two-and-a-half years in, and we don’t have marijuana for sale yet in the city of Niles,” he said, referring to the 2016 Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, which permitted municipalities to opt-in to allowing medical marijuana facilities. “I think we’re taking plenty of time.”

After the resolution passed, both DiCostanzo and councilman Travis Timm congratulated Green Stem and thanked it for making a commitment to Niles.

Before and after the vote, councilman Daniel VandenHeede voiced concern about the city’s process of consideration.

In January, the council voted to allow up to four medical marijuana provisioning centers to operate in the city. City staff and officials chose three provisioning centers, including Green Stem’s, based on merit.

At a later meeting, though, the council voted to change this process. Now, medical marijuana businesses must be pre-approved for a state license before consideration. This was how Green Stem’s growing and processing center was considered and ultimately approved.

VandenHeede said this “first-come, first-serve” approach was not careful enough.

“We’re going to have more demand than we have available places, and, frankly, more demand than I want to be licensing or operating in our city,” he said.

Mayor Nick Shelton said that the city’s previous method of considering facilities was complex, but the staff that worked with medical marijuana documents were thorough in their investigations of applications and in their ordinance-writing, as they are now.

Green Stem owner Denise Lynch said she appreciated the city’s thoroughness in considering her business to operate in Niles. It shows that the city is serious, just as Green Stem is.

“For them to review us as completely as they are, we are also reviewing them because we’re coming into this town,” she said. “For me, it’s really important for them to look at us, to examine us and to check our backgrounds.”

Lynch and Green Stem staff said they were excited to see the enthusiasm for their business expressed by many on the council.

“We do have high demand for medical marijuana facilities in our city, and I think that’s a great thing,” said Shelton before he adjourned the meeting. “We are taking the steps necessary to bring in the best to our community, and I think we’re doing a really great job.”

Like Green Stem’s provisional license, the growing and processing license is conditional. Green Stem was pre-approved by the State of Michigan to grow and process marijuana for medicinal purposes. The state requires growers to get local government approval before it officially gives a state license.

Green Stem will present its growing, processing and provisioning site plans to the Planning Commission at 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 22 at the fire department building. The commission will then vote on whether to approve medical marijuana zoning changes on a later date.

Service quotes, allotments and purchases approved

On Monday, the city council also unanimously approved nine agenda nine agenda items that sought to repair services, extend services or allot money for water usage. The Council approved $364,026 to be spent.

Among the items approved was $252,900 for L&T Painting of Shelby Township, Michigan, to recoat the Cherry Street Water Tower. Computer security software, hardware and services for $52,251 with a three-year annual payment of $17,417 was also approved.

In a continuation of a partnership between the city and Niles Community Gardens, the Council approved a $2,000 allotment of water usage to the organization.