Medical marijuana in Monroe: What officials, developer say its impact will be

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Cresco Labs Ohio in Yellow Springs is in the final construction stages of a 50,000-square-foot medical marijuana cultivation and processing facility

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Monroe was one of the few Butler County communities to not implement a ban on the medical marijuana businesses, which are set to begin operation across the state this year.

The city will soon be home to a medical marijuana cultivation facility and a dispensary, but officials say they expect no negative impact on the growing business community where the Cincinnati Premium Outlet Mall is located as well as several major logistics and distribution hubs for companies such as Hayneedle, Home Depot and soon, Amazon.

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“The police department is working with the business owners to make sure plans are understood and what their needs are and how the city can facilitate on addressing those needs,” City Manager Bill Brock said. “We have a community resource officer engaged with the businesses.”

Brock said City Council does not believe medical marijuana businesses will hinder city efforts at the Interstate 75 and Ohio 63 interchange.

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“People were concerned when Hustler Hollywood opened here,” Brock said. “We’ve shown we can manage these types of businesses and that’s at the interchange and Bristol’s (Show Club and Revue) was also open then. I don’t think that business was a detriment to our efforts then.”

Bristol’s operated as an adult entertainment business from 1994 to 2005. It closed after the city’s sexual oriented business ordinance was upheld by the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, ending a five-year court battle between Monroe and WFO, Bristol’s former owner. The club’s new owner, Deja Vu, considered re-opening and expanding the near-nude club in 2006, but the size of the expansion would have exceed the legal non-conforming use of the building, according to city officials.

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He said the cultivation facility is in an existing building that is being rehabbed for that purpose.

Kevin Chesar, city development director, said the cultivation facility is located almost four miles west from the interchange in a nondescript industrial building off South Salzman Road, while the proposed dispensary will be located on Cincinnati-Dayton Road which is about two miles west from the interchange.

“I do not see any correlation to the interchange with the uses,” Chesar said. “I am confident that our aesthetic, architectural and use principles that have guided and continue to successfully grow the interchange as well as the rest of our City will continue to ensure buildings and site designs that are of high quality and architecturally resilient.”

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Earlier this week, another multi-tenant commercial site that is proposed for development was reviewed by the city Planning Commission, he said.

As of July 17, the city has not received any permit applications for the dispensary, Chesar said. He added that the new building/site will have to receive Planning Commission approval prior to any approval for building permits. Chesar said he did not have any information on a construction timeline.

Longtime developer Lenny Robinson said development is taking place around the interchange as the city and private investors are working to attract more businesses and industry to Monroe.

Robinson’s group, who acquired the Corridor 75 Park in 1976, has seen an explosion of development in that area and that continues to grow as Amazon will open their new facility in the next month. He said there will be more than 5,000 people working at companies over that 800-acre development which has another 182 acres left for development.

His family has developed more than 11,000 acres in Monroe, creating thousands of jobs and $1.5 billion worth of investment in the city going back to 1946.

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“The impact (of the medical marijuana businesses) is not going to change the dynamics of any city,” he said. “I believe the impact will be minimal.”

Robinson likened the medical marijuana licenses as modern day liquor licenses but was not sure about how these businesses will address their banking due to conflicts with state and federal laws.

Vice Mayor Dan Clark said he did not believe there would be any negative impacts with the opening of the two new medical marijuana businesses.

“The cultivation facility is another warehouse,” Clark said. “No one will see it because it’s not open to the public.”

Clark said, “I think people view medical marijuana positively. There’s been a change in society over the past few decades.”

He said medical marijuana has helped people with post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer and seizure disorders.

“I think its positive that it can help people of all ages,” Clark said. “I think that’s great.”