Royal Oak Planning Commission votes down proposal for pot business near school

Posted at 12:17 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 12:17:37-05

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) — Royal Oak city leaders spent almost four hours listening to the community on whether they should bring a marijuana dispensary to the city.

What kept this meeting going is the controversy of the proposed site, which is just feet away from a school.

The room inside city hall was filled with members of the community going back on a hot topic that the planning committee just voted to not move forward with.

People on both sides of the debate used three minutes to explain to leaders where they stand and why.

“I am for the facility. I think it would be a great neighbor to our nature park,” one man said.

Gatsby Cannabis Co. is seeking a special land use permit and site plan to build a facility on Meijer Drive north of West 14 Mile, just feet away from Oakland Schools Technical Campus. At OSTC, students from across the county come daily for classes in subjects varying from computer science, construction, culinary arts and other vocational subjects.

“I don’t care about your facts. I care about my son,” a Royal Oak resident said.

Some parents don’t believe the location is the place to grow and sell pot.

“Find another building away from schools,” one woman said.

A teacher in the county agrees.

“As a parent and fellow teacher, do not accept this site plan,” the teacher said.

An attorney representing the cannabis company says they aren’t breaking any laws.

“We kindly ask you request to approve,” Dennis Collin, a Gatsby Cannabis representative said.

The law says marijuana businesses cannot be within 1,000 feet of schools providing education. But according to the city, OSTC is technically not a school.

Parents and teachers disagree.

“It is laughable to say the 1,000 foot doesn’t apply,” a man said during the meeting.

Others in the community say if not now, then when.

“The kids are going to know what cannabis is," one resident said. "Explain to them rather than shield them from it.”

Melissa Morris with the Royal Oak Community Coalition said, “We want to work with them because our job is to educate and keep safe.”

Even though the planning committee voted to not recommend the permit for the marijuana dispensary, 7 Action News was told city council can still pick up where the planning committee left off.