Hesperia medical marijuana dispensary in limbo.

February 28, 2019

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

Hesperia medical marijuana dispensary in limbo.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HESPERIA – A proposed medical marijuana dispensary is waiting in the wings as an ordinance is pending approval by the Hesperia Village Council.

The council deadlocked 3-3 during a vote, 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. Council still needs to approve the ordinance, Hesperia Village President Mike Farber told OCP Thursday, Feb. 28. “It’s written,” Farber said. “But it still needs to be adopted.”

Farber said voting on the ordinance a second time has been delayed, because the village currently has no legal counsel. The village terminated its previous counsel, the Muskegon law firm of Williams Hughes, PLLC, he said.

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.

With the deadlock vote in January, the motion on the table failed, so the council had 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 Farber. Then, Yob would have been able to apply for a one-year permit for $5,000 payable to the village.

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 in January.

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

Audience members during the public hearing in January 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.

The dispensary, which would not be open after 8 p.m., would be equipped with security cameras and an alarm system. 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 is looking to hire a new police chief to replace Joe Fitzgerald who resigned from the post. Three candidates have applied for the position, and the search process is moving forward, Farber said.

A total of $250,000 has been invested into the dispensary project, and another $250,000 will be spent, Yob said.

Developers have already made many renovations to the building.

“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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