Medical marijuana dispensary stalls in Hesperia.

January 15, 2019

The former Hesperia Variety Store where Hesperia Wellness, LLC would be located.

Medical marijuana dispensary stalls in Hesperia.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HESPERIA – The Hesperia Village Council deadlocked 3-3 during a vote Monday night, Jan. 14, to approve a medical marijuana dispensary ordinance that would have cleared the first hurdle for a dispensary to open in the the former Hesperia Variety Store.

The 30,000-square-foot building located downtown next to the village hall and police station is being renovated for use as a medical marijuana dispensary and grow facility, said developer Chuck Yob. However, the council’s tie vote Monday delays the process.

With a deadlock, the motion on the table failed, so the council must come up with a new ordinance. Had the motion passed, it would have been posted for 10 days and then it would have gone into effect, said Village President Mike Farber. Then, Yob would have been able to apply for a one-year permit for $5,000 payable to the village.

But it’s back to the drawing board for the council to come up with an ordinance that council members can agree on.

Voting in favor of the ordinance were Farber, Jim Smith and Joyce McDonald, and voting “no” were Mike Maynard, Kristin Denbesten and Carol Kochans. Councilman JR Derks was absent.

The village council “opted in” for medical marijuana dispensaries last October. The council passed a moratorium, which is a temporary ban, on recreational marijuana sales for up to one year.

The retail space at 9 E. Michigan Avenue was sold to Douglas Development III, LLC, and the dispensary would operate as Hesperia Wellness LLC, said Village Clerk Vicki Burrell.

Audience members during Monday night’s public hearing voiced concerns about security and a possible upswing of crime.

“It’s easier to get into Fort Knox than it is to get into this building once we’re open,” said Yob. “We will take care of every problem that arises because we want to renew our license. So, you won’t see many problems.”

The dispensary would be equipped with security cameras and an alarm system, said Village Counsel Zaneta Adams. The business cannot be open during the hours of 8 p.m. to 9 a.m.

The facility would be protected by commercial grade steel doors, and a filtration system would control odors. All employees must have a criminal background check.

When asked who would oversee the operation, ensuring it complies with the rules, Farber said it would be the village police department and the State of Michigan. The village is not planning to hire additional police officers, but plans to hire a new police chief to replace Joe Fitzgerald who recently resigned from the post.

“Right now, $250,000 has been invested, and we’re investing another a $250,000,” Yob said. “There is a big incentive that we take care of you. You people are our bosses.”

Developers have done many renovations to the building’s interior and plan to make several improvements to the exterior, said Yob, who is a Hesperia native.

“We will be hiring up to 25 people,” the developer said. The pay rate for the jobs would be $15-$50 per hour, he said. “It will be a boom for the grocery store, bar and gas stations.”

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