ZBA Grants 1 of 2 Medical Marijuana Appeals

At its Jan. 25, 2012 meeting, Ann Arbor’s zoning board of appeals heard two appeals from representatives of medical marijuana dispensaries, who had been denied a zoning compliance permit by the city. The ZBA granted one appeal (from Green Planet), overturning the decision of city staff, and rejected the other (from Treecity).

Both businesses were  seeking such a permit in order to apply for a medical marijuana dispensary license. The licensing board is scheduled to meet on Jan. 31 to make recommendations on the award of dispensary licenses. The denial of the one appeal means that nine of 10 total applications will be considered by the licensing board.

The Ann Arbor city council enacted zoning and licensing requirements for medical marijuana businesses on June 20, 2011. Among the zoning regulations is a requirement that medical marijuana dispensaries can be located only in those districts zoned as D (downtown), C (commercial), or M (industrial), or in PUD districts where a retail use is permitted in the supplemental regulations.

Treecity (1712 S. State Street) is in a district zoned as O (office), while Green Planet (700 Tappan St.) is in the Casa Dominick PUD (planned unit development) district. Treecity argued that it had established a legal use of the property as a medical marijuana dispensary before the enactment of the city’s zoning ordinance, and should be allowed to continue that non-conforming use within the district zoned for office use.

However the nine-member ZBA ruled against Treecity. The ZBA did not find that Treecity had previously established a legal use of the property as a medical marijuana dispensary. Of the six members of the board who were present at the meeting, Treecity’s appeal garnered support only from Sabra Briere, who also serves on the medical marijuana license board and the Ann Arbor city council. [.pdf of Treecity staff report including appeal]

For the other appeal, Green Planet noted that the supplemental regulations in the existing PUD allow for “grocery, prepared food and beverage sales, including retail sales of non-food items typically associated with groceries and food preparation.” On that basis, Green Planet argued that the PUD meets the zoning condition that says dispensaries are allowed in “PUD districts where retail is permitted in the supplemental regulations.”

The city had denied the zoning compliance permit based on the idea that medical marijuana preparations were not “typically associated with groceries and food preparation.” But the ZBA’s vote to overturn the city staff decision was unanimous among the six board members present. [.pdf of Green Planet staff report including appeal] More coverage: [link]