Belding hears zoning request from marijuana grow facility

Belding City Manager John Niemela, left, answers a question from Councilman Mike Scheid about Botanical Biologics request to permanently rezone part of its property to I-1 Industrial during last week’s City Council meeting. — DN Photo | Brandon Schreur

BELDING — A marijuana grow company in this city is requesting part of the business’ zoning be permanently changed rather than temporarily.

The Belding City Council last week held the first reading for a zoning amendment at Botanical Biologics, located at 1331 W. State St.

When Botanical Biologics first started up in 2019, the property was temporarily rezoned to the I-1 Industrial District to allow the business owners to start the grow operation while they also completed plans to build a more permanent facility on the back portion of the property, which is already zoned I-1 Industrial District.

While City Manager John Niemela told the City Council the temporary rezoning remains in place until next April, Botanical Biologics owner Emily Elms recently submitted an application to permanently rezone the front half of the property as I-1 Industrial District.

“They’ve (Botanical Biologics) been in operation now for a couple of years and found it’d be beneficial forth if they were able to retain the use of that building (on the front half of the property) as part of their operation,” Niemela explained.

Niemela said that the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the matter during their Aug. 24 meeting. The Planning Commission then voted to recommend the zoning map amendments to the City Council.

According to Niemela, Botanical Biologics is still planning on building an addition on the back half of the property. A representative was present at the meeting and said the company hoped to begin doing so next spring.

“So, the acceptance of this (proposal) would allow it (the business) to continue, as is, as they have been for the last (two) years?” Councilman Jorel Davis clarified. “And saying now would basically halt their business?”

Apart from the fact that the business could continue operating as-is until the conditional rezoning runs out in April, Niemela said that was correct. Niemela also said there haven’t been any pressing issues with the business since it opened in 2019.

Councilman Mike Scheid wondered if the request would have any impact on the grow facility the City Council recently okayed at 701 Reed St. in April. Given that the Reed Street location is already zoned I-1 Industrial, Niemela said the two were not related.

Mayor Bruce Meyers asked if there was any use in giving Botanical Biologics another conditional re-zoning rather than amending the zoning on the property.

“If their plan was to have a temporary (space) and move completely into the new building, it’d be something to consider,” Niemela answered. “They want to use the building they already have for their operations. If you did conditional rezoning, they’d have to come back (for further conditional re-zoning requests).

“… It’s no longer an issue of the space being temporarily used until they get their new buildings. It’s that they really feel it’d be an advantage to continue to use that (current) building.”

With Tuesday marking the first reading of the zoning ordinance amendment, the City Council took no action on the matter. Council members have an opportunity to vote on the zoning amendment request during their next meeting on Sept. 21.

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