MI: Marijuana Dispensary By Ann Arbor’s Water Hill Neighborhood OK’d

Photo Credit: Ryan Stanton

Before the Bloom City Club marijuana dispensary came along and set up shop, the former gas station at 423 Miller Ave. in Ann Arbor wasn’t much to look at.

Nestled on the edges of the Water Hill neighborhood and downtown, the 900-square-foot building, originally built in 1953, has since undergone a transformation. With a new fresh look, it’s now a place where people go to buy medical-grade cannabis products, and some even mistake it for a flower shop.

“Bloom has taken an old gas station, a brownfield really, and turned it green — literally, figuratively and economically — and Bloom has cleaned up that part of the Miller corridor,” said Scott Newell, owner of the Big City Small World Bakery across the street.

“They’ve added hardscape and landscaping in the front. It makes it really look nice,” he said. “They’ve added a lot to the Miller corridor, the pedestrian corridor.”

Newell spoke at this week’s city Planning Commission meeting, urging commissioners to support Bloom’s request for zoning approval.

The commission approved the request, making Bloom now the eighth marijuana dispensary to receive zoning approval under the city’s new regulations for marijuana businesses.

Several other dispensaries are still seeking zoning approval from the city. After more than 30 applied recently, the City Council decided this week to put a 60-day moratorium on issuing new permits, except for those dispensaries already under consideration.

During the moratorium, the city is considering changes to further limit the number of dispensaries that will be able to sprout in Ann Arbor, as well as rethinking how close to one another they can be.

Currently the required buffer between dispensaries is 600 feet, though some city officials are pushing for 1,000 feet.

Newell said his bakery has been a retail anchor at the corner of Spring and Miller since 2002 and Bloom has been a stellar neighbor and a welcome addition to an area that’s suffered from blight.

“There’s still an empty building on the northeast side of the train trestle. It looks like hell. It’s been there forever,” Newell said of some of the existing blight still along the corridor.

He said Bloom has done a really good job of transforming a dirty, industrial lot into an independent retail business.

He thinks Bloom’s presence will continue to help generate more retail activity for the corridor.

“I really want them there as a business neighbor,” he said.

Other neighbors spoke out at the meeting and said their only concern is that the parking situation in front of Bloom is problematic, causing cars to back out onto Miller Avenue in an unsafe manner.

One of the city’s conditions for granting zoning approval this week was that Bloom must remove two parking spaces in front of the dispensary and essentially reconfigure the parking situation.

A representative for the dispensary said that’s not a problem. Bloom has parking available for several vehicles on a gravel lot behind the building, along with bicycle parking.

The representative also noted the dispensary has the purple house next door as an office.

Commissioner Sarah Mills joined in praising Bloom, agreeing it’s helped beautify the area.

“I walk past this every single day to take my children to daycare and I agree with the neighbors who said this has been a welcome addition to the neighborhood,” she said. “Their flowers are beautiful. It’s understandable why people think it’s a flower shop. I mean, just the building itself is really improved.”

Mills noted Bloom also helped make a Water Hill neighborhood mural happen underneath the nearby railroad bridge.

As he spoke before the commission, Newell took the opportunity to invite people to the annual Water Hill Music Fest on Sunday, May 6, a free event during which residents perform live music from porches and lawns throughout the neighborhood.

The Planning Commission postponed action on another marijuana dispensary proposal this week.

A company called Scientific Method Holdings II Inc. is seeking zoning approval for a dispensary at 1115 Broadway St., near the corner of Broadway and Plymouth Road in a former church that over the years has housed a Hallmark store, flower shop and child care business.

The city’s staff recommended postponing the request so parking issues could be worked out. It could come back May 1.

City records show the 1115 Broadway St. property sold for $945,000 on Jan. 19 to Scio Township-based Adinath LLC.

According to information provided by the city, the Planning Commission has approved the zoning for these eight marijuana dispensaries so far this year:

•Bloom City Club, 423 Miller Ave.

•Arbors Wellness at 321 E. Liberty St.

•Treecity Health Collective at 2730 Jackson Ave.

•Greenstone Society at 338 S. Ashley St.

•Stadium Ventures Inc. at 2460 W. Stadium Blvd.

•Medicine Man of Ann Arbor Inc. at 2793 Plymouth Road

•Arborside at 1818 Packard St.

•Om of Medicine at 111 S. Main St.

The Planning Commission rejected a proposal for a marijuana dispensary in the Burns Park area.

Once the zoning is approved, dispensaries still need building compliance approval, permit approval through the city clerk’s office and license approval through the state.