Coldwater will not have a 100 foot, 380-square-foot marijuana leaf sign towering from the woods over the east side of town.
After an hour and a half discussion back in July, on Wednesday the Coldwater Zoning Board of Appeals rejected an application from the Tree House Provisioning Center to allow a variance for a 100-foot-tall sign on its location behind 894 East Chicago St.
The Planning Commission made a recommendation it be denied. The commission said if the request for the sign had been made at the March 15 hearing for the Special Use Permit to operate its recreational marijuana retail operation, it would have not approved the permit.
The ZBA needed to make a decision of its own of the variance request since the planning commission cannot issue a variance itself.
The problem began for owners Birds of a Feather LLC after it opened its recreational marijuana store, the owners of the Phoenix Center where Prompt Care is located, removed signs for the business from its property.
The owners lacked the knowledge they could not have a sign on the adjacent property when they made its special use permit application.
The owner had allowed the sign for the landlocked piece of property when Tree House just sold garden and marijuana grow equipment.
Appeals board member Gordon Swan said, “it’s pretty clear the city doesn’t want a 100-foot sign in the city.” He was concerned if the ZBA granted a variance it would open the door for others with no street frontage to request a similar sign.
Swan also pointed out “we have repeatedly denied others signs that weren’t nearly this tall.”
Planning Director Dean Walrack said the owners would need two additional variances for the size of the sign and it being a free-standing sign.
The Coldwater City Council voted to allow recreational marijuana only in the C-4 zoning district around I-69 and U.S. 12. In order to avoid legal challenges, it did not limit the number. Already 11 have applied and been granted permits. Four have opened. Two more are ready to open as soon as the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency approves the licenses. The rest are in various stages of planning.
Two are open in Quincy with a third soon to start construction.
Most of the businesses chose Branch County because of its easy access to Indiana and Ohio where marijuana remains illegal.