City to consider second marijuana grow facility in Airport Industrial Park

THREE RIVERS — A special exception use permit for a second marijuana grow facility in Three Rivers’ Airport Industrial Park will be up for further consideration later this month.

Three Rivers city commissioners Tuesday set a public hearing for Tuesday, July 19 to consider approval of the special exception use permit for Merrillville, Ind.-based Native Leaf, LLC, which is looking to locate a grow facility at 2042 Hov Aire Dr. The proposed location is on 9.44 acres of undeveloped land on the northwest corner of Hov Aire Drive and Haines Road.

If approved, it would be the second special exception use permit approved in the city for a growing/processing facility, and the second to be located in the Airport Industrial Park. Back in March, the city commission approved a permit for Detroit-based Thick Cannabis, LLC to operate on a 6.37-acre site in the park, a half mile down the road from where Native Leaf would operate.

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 the same March meeting where Thick Cannabis’ permit was approved for $12,000 per acre for a total of $113,280. Sale of the property was contingent on Native Leaf receiving a special exception use permit to operate the facility.

During discussion of the permit, Second District Commissioner Alison Haigh asked how long Native Leaf will have to start the process of building their facility before the special exception use permit goes away. She noted that there are three dispensary permits previously approved by the city that have “yet to see anything happen” with them. City Attorney J. Patrick O’Malley said permits are for a year, but “they pay a fee every year whether they are operating or not.”

O’Malley noted there will be renewal of marijuana licenses for businesses coming up “soon.”

The approval vote was 5-1, with First District Commissioner Pat Dane dissenting and At-Large Commissioner Daryl Griffith absent.

Later on in the meeting, related to Mayor Tom Lowry asking if there were any representatives from Native Leaf in attendance to discuss their business and per O’Malley’s suggestion, city staff were directed to draft a policy that would address representatives from companies seeking permits being in attendance for public hearings.

In other business…

  • Commissioners approved an $11,408 purchase order to Municipal Emergency Services for four sets of turnout gear for the Three Rivers Fire Department.
  • Commissioners approved four engineering firms for pre-qualification with the city to complete work on road, utility and linear park projects in fiscal years 2023 to 2027. The four firms, in ranking order, are Fleis & Vandenbrink, Wightman, OHM Consultants, and Fishbeck.
  • Commissioners approved the purchase of a tax-reverted property on 1308 Canal St. in Three Rivers for $3,097.02, plus recording fees and additional mowing costs. The property was on St. Joseph County’s tax-delinquent property list, with the city having the right to purchase the property before it hit the public auction block, per Public Act 123 of 1999.

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

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