The owners of the Burton, Mich. club have gained approval from the town’s planning commission to change zoning for 37 of the property’s 95 acres from general commercial to light industrial, opening the door to explore other potential uses that could include a medical marijuana site with multiple grow houses, a processing center and a biomass power plant. The developer of the “corporate cannabis park,” which would use the existing clubhouse as a dispensary and processing center, called the Southmoor property “an excellent fit for the development.”
The Southmoor Golf Course in Burton, Mich. has moved one step forward to potentially changing part of its property to be used by a large-scale, multi-million-dollar medical marijuana facility, MLive.com reported.
Planning commission members in Burton voted 5-2 on January 9 to allow the business to change the zoning for 37 acres of the roughly 95-acre grounds from general commercial to light industrial, which could clear the way for a commercial medical marijuana site, that would include multiple grow houses, processing center and a biomass power plant, MLive.com reported.
The change in zoning would allow for a such a medical marijuana facility to be placed on the golf club grounds, MLive.com reported, as medical marijuana facilities in the city are required to be located in areas zoned industrial.
David Boji, one of the golf club’s owners, told commissioners in making statements to support the change that the golf course has been losing money for several years and that he and his father, Wilson, have been searching for other potential developments on the grounds,
“At the end of the day, the golden age of golf courses is over,” Boji said at the commission meeting, pointing to baby boomers getting older and playing less, along with millennials not picking up on the sport.
The golf course pays $33,000 in taxes to the city on an annual basis, MLive.com reported, and in looking at their options, the Southmoor GC owners said they have been speaking with the CannaDevelopment Company.
Garrett Greenlee, president of CannaDevelopment, said the group specializes in large commercial cannabis development projects, including grow facilities, dispensaries, and processing centers, MLive.com reported.
“We spent the last 18 months looking for the right place in Michigan to debut this concept, which we call a corporate cannabis park,” Greenlee said, calling the Southmoor property an “excellent fit for the full development.”
In its first phase, MLive.com reported, the potential development would include five, 42,000 sq.-ft. Class C grow houses storing marijuana plants, and a redevelopment and re-purposing of Southmoor’s approximately 8,500 sq.-ft. clubhouse into a dispensary, provisioning center, and processing center and central chilled water plant.
A breakdown of the estimated capital improvement costs provided to commissioners put the cost of the project at $59 million, MLive.com reported, with a total of 287 employees hired by the end of phase two.
Greenlee said the facility would be constructed in two phases, with the second phase including a central utilities park with a 3.5-megawatt biomass power generator, with boilers turning agricultural waste into a renewable energy source.
“We want the lowest impact to the environment as possible,” Greenlee said, noting that carbon dioxide would be fed back into the grow facilities to create a carbon-negative commercial facility. “We’re trying to really take this cultivation activity to the next level with this type of facility.”
Greenlee said he’s been working on the concept for five years, with the regulatory changes in Michigan now allowing for co-locating, or stacking, of several facilities on the same property, MLive.com reported.
The development would be a state-of-the-art, research-grade facility and Greenlee said that CannaDevelopment would “want to set the bar very high for the state of Michigan,” given the changes in testing that will take place on medical marijuana by the state for items such as mold, insects and fungus.
“We feel like this is the perfect spot to debut this concept,” Greenlee said.
Boji said that there had been discussions with other potential investors in the Southmoor property, but nothing came of those talks, MLive.com reported.
“These investors, after seeing the economic state of the city and seeing the income of the city, have decided to not invest in the city,” Boji said. “[The marijuana facility] was the one development that we could find that an investor is willing to come in and spend $70 million to develop something in the city.”
The presentation took place at the planning and city council meetings, Boji said, because Southmoor’s ownership wanted “to be completely transparent with the city and everybody here today.”
“We’re not just looking to come in here and develop this,” he said. “We’re looking for the city’s support, embracing this project, and we’re looking to be partners with the city for a long time to come.”
Amber Abbey, a deputy planning official with the city of Burton, noted that the rezoning approval does not equate to a go-ahead for the project, MLive.com reported.
The planning commission would be able to suggest alterations and conditions, Abbey said, such as trees, berms, and parking spaces in a site plan submitted by the developers.
In voting no on the change along with commissioner Mary Ann White, vice chairman Kevin Burge said that he had no issue with the plan itself, MLive.com reported, but that residents in the area should have been notified of the potential development. The push for rezoning felt like “a package deal,” Burge added, given the presentation while rehashing a previous discussion on what may go on the site.
Residents and business owners within 300 feet of the property were notified 15 days prior to the public hearing, Abbey said. She added that the vote was for the rezoning of two parcels on the property, and not any future use.
No residents spoke during the public comment portion of the hearing, MLive.com reported.
Burton City Council members approved a first reading on the zoning change during a special meeting on January 10, where Boji and Greenlee gave a presentation about the project, MLive.com reported. A second reading is set to take place at the council’s January 18 meeting before the change can go into effect.
Burton’s Mayor, Paula Zelenko, argued that the zoning change is conducive to the area, with other businesses close by in the light industrial category, MLive.com reported. Zelenko called Southmoor GC “a good public partner with the city and a good community supporter,” and pointed out that Southmoor’s owners came to the city looking for a way to save their business and that the change would offer them a chance to seek additional opportunities on the property.
“I do not think it’s an ask that’s unreasonable, and I would support the zoning change,” Zelenko said.