Planners OK pot testing facilities in downtown | Local News

TRAVERSE CITY – Analysis laboratories testing marijuana could be located in downtown Traverse City.

The planning officers recently agreed that facilities for compliance with the safety regulations, as they are called in state law, can be located in the city’s zone district C-4. Now it is up to a new city commission to approve the use agreed by the planners as a sensible addition to the city center.

The proposed change came about because Cambium Analytica’s laboratory facilities on Woodmere Avenue had grown too large, company founder and owner George Powell told planners in October. The company already has offices in the Fifth Third Bank building on Front and Union Street and plans to build additional laboratory space on the second floor.

Powell said the company tests marijuana for pesticides, metals, and other contaminants, and does research and development. He showed the planners what the company has to offer and what not: no pedestrian traffic, no smells and no noise, while highly qualified scientists are employed.

“We look forward to having the opportunity to build and encourage out of the space we are in right now and have the opportunity to bring more scientists and microbiologists to live, work and be part of the community,” he said . “And of course these are year-round jobs, very competitive jobs, very well paid.”

While city planner Shawn Winter suggested that the planning commission keep security devices off the first floors of blocks 100 and 200 of East Front Street, they declined to add that condition.

Commissioner Brian McGillivary asked how deliveries of marijuana to the testing facilities were being handled. Powell said in the case of Cambium Analytica it would take place in a locked garage and the company’s six to eight drivers would arrive at different times of the day.

McGillivary proposed, and the commissioners agreed, to have two conditions, one that no one except employees, state regulators, or those with a state license under marijuana laws are allowed into the labs, and another that an owner or operator should not be allowed to enter the labs because of Drug offenses may be convicted for the past 10 years. These appeared to be redundant or potentially in conflict with other state or city regulations, McGillivary said.

Planners recommended the move 6-0, with Commissioners Debbie Hershey, Christie Minervini and Heather Shaw absent.

Shaw previously said she believes the uses that are already allowed in the city’s industrial areas make sense for the inner city, given the recent run-down of office space there.

Planning commission chairman David Hassing repeated this, saying his tour of Cambium Analytica convinced him that it would fit well with downtown.

“Even if there was no office space crisis in the city center, I see no reason not to bring these facilities into the city center and integrate the office space into the city center,” he said.

However, McGillivary cautioned against pushing to repurpose office space emptied after the COVID-19 pandemic – pointing to conflicting analyzes that working from home is either temporary or a long-term trend.

“I think it’s too early during a pandemic to understand exactly what’s going to happen to office space, so I would just be careful … to make a big push to find new uses for downtown office space,” he said .

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