City approves special use permit for marijuana grow op

THREE RIVERS — A second marijuana grow facility in the city limits was permitted Tuesday by the Three Rivers City Commission.

Commissioners approved a special exception use permit for Merrillville, Ind.-based Native Leaf LLC to build the grow facility following a public hearing. The facility would be located on 9.44 acres on the north side of Hov Aire Drive at the intersection of Haines Road in the city’s Airport Industrial Complex.

With the approval, both of the grow facilities approved by the city, Native Leaf LLC and Thick Cannabis LLC, would operate out of the Airport Industrial Complex, both at different spots.

As previously reported, according to proposed site plans, Native Leaf would operate a 30,000-square-foot Class C grow facility on the property initially, with a possible 30,000 square foot addition in the future. They would be growing marijuana for both medical and recreational use. The city previously sold the land in the industrial park to Native Leaf back in March, with getting the permit and licenses a condition of the sale.

Thomas Lavigne, an attorney representing Native Leaf, said he expects to have construction of the facility complete within 10 months and that he expects to comply with conditions moving forward. When asked by Fourth District Commissioner Carolyn McNary if they have future plans past growing, Lavigne said they have plans for processing in the future.

“Processing will be one of the strengths of Native Leaf, making marijuana-infused products out of the plants. That will be located within the same location,” Lavigne said. “We’ll start with the growing, get that down, and then the processing would be done next. This would be a wholesaler to retailers around the state.”

Joe Glusak, the owner of the facility, added with the acreage they would have with the property, they could fit up to four buildings with 30,000 square feet, what he called a “substantial investment” in the property.

Lavigne also confirmed with First District Commissioner Pat Dane that the processing operation would require a future permit, as the permit approved by the city only covers growing. Once the facility is up and going, Lavigne added, they hope to have between 20 and 22 employees by the end of the first year, with $15 to $40-per-hour wages.

“We’re excited coming into Three Rivers and bringing jobs, and we hope everybody prospers from this,” Glusak said.

The vote on the permit was 6-1, with Dane dissenting.

In other business…

  • Commissioners approved an ordinance amendment pertaining to residential district fences. Any fence erected within any portion of a front yard in the city cannot exceed 4 feet in height, and changed “required front yard” to just “front yard” in the ordinance, which clarifies situations where boundary line fences become interior yard fences at 5 feet from the property line, and to help ease restrictions for residents that have a front yard that is larger than the “required front yard.”
  • Commissioners approved a $31,000 salt purchase for winter 2022-23 through the State of Michigan’s MiDEAL contract. The cost of early-order salt, delivered in the fall, is $65.81 per ton, while the cost for mid-season orders, delivered in the winter and spring) is $67.52 per ton. This is up from $59.62 per ton for early orders and $66.20 for mid-season orders last year.
  • Commissioners approved a $54,722 purchase order from Peerless Midwest for fiscal year 2022 well work for the city. The price includes the use of $18,722 from fund balance, as $36,000 was originally budgeted; this is due to needing to replace a portion of a pipe in a system near one of the wells that was not replaced during work done in 2011.
  • Commissioners approved fiscal year 2023 pavement marking costs for the year, approving a $29.400 purchase order from PK Contracting.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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