Dowagiac Planning Commission approves site plans for marijuana retailers

Published 11:50 am Tuesday, April 4, 2023

DOWAGIAC — Cannabis in Dowagiac is blazing ahead.

The Dowagiac Planning Commission unanimously approved site plans for two marijuana retailers – The ReLeaf Center and Bee’s Knees MI, LLC – during its Monday meeting at City Hall.

The ReLeaf Center – which also has a Niles location at 1840 Terminal Rd. – will be located at 29042 Amerihost Drive, Dowagiac, on a vacant plot of land behind the Baymont Hotel.

“We’re excited,” said ReLeaf CEO Michael E. Gelatka. “We hope it takes our name further. I think we’ll do really well for (Dowagiac), we did for Niles. We’re glad to be a part of it.”

The company grows, processes and provisions cannabis. It has other locations in eastern Michigan, but the Niles’ location was its first to grow plants, which are processed and distributed for products at its locations.

ReLeaf CEO Michael E. Gelatka was on hand for the meeting, as was architect Gary Radtke of Radtke Engineering, to discuss the site plan, which calls for a two-story building as well as a detention pond behind the building. The second story will house office space for the company.

Gelatka said he plans to break ground soon and that if all goes well, the new location would be complete before the end of 2023.

Bee’s Knees will be located in the former Heartland Auto Sales building at 56271 M-51 S. Assistant City Manager Amanda Sleigh said the building’s change in use from an auto facility to cannabis retail is what prompted the site plan review setback requirements, parking requirements and landscaping design.

According to Sleigh, the city’s zoning ordinance requires that buildings the size of the Heartland building have 53 parking spaces. But because Bee’s Knees does not plan to fully utilize the entire square footage of the building at this current time, its request to defer the construction of the parking lot was approved along with the site plan.

“Parking codes are typically designed around the peak sales day,” said Dowagiac City Manager Kevin Anderson. “If a business doesn’t have a typical peak sales day, we have  that provision in there that says you can change it. This is very similar to what we did with Tractor Supply Co. several years ago. This deferment gives them the opportunity to come back and add more parking should there not be enough.”

Anderson said the incoming businesses have been good to work with and that the city appreciates the developments taking place with both projects.

“We have been very pleased with the professionalism of the permittees here tonight,” Anderson said. “Very easy to work with and very, very much wanting to follow the rules and their plans reflect that. We’re looking forward to the improvements on M-51 and also some additional development on Amerihost. It’s been long desired.”