P&Z rules medical marijuana grow facility comparable to other businesses in Gerald’s light industrial district

Linda Trest
Staff Writer

Gerald’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) was summoned to a special meeting last Tuesday, July 30 to determine whether a marijuana grow facility met current criteria for location in the city as a light industry (I-1). City attorney Dave Struebel attended the meeting to guide the commission through the legal aspects of the question. 

In November 2018, Missouri voters approved Constitutional Amendment 2, allowing for the legalization of marijuana use for medical purposes. The amendment also makes provisions for producing marijuana within the state. 

The production and distribution of marijuana is overseen by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). 

Stringent guidelines have already been put in place to regulate the production of the product. 

TRMG Investments, LLC of Santa Rosa, Calif. contacted the city about a parcel of property located in the industrial park. This 16.5 acre parcel is commonly known as the old stave mill property at 515 Flottmann Road. It runs from Flottmann Road north to West Industrial Drive and is currently zoned I-1.

According to Streubel, TRMG plans to construct a greenhouse on the property to contain a portion of the grow facility. It may also use some of the acreage for an outdoor grow area. State law mandates security measures be put into place to prevent unauthorized access to either of the grow areas. 

Streubel explained to the P&Z members that their task that evening was simple. A decision needed to be made as to whether such a facility was compatible with the existing definition of allowable industries included in the current city code. 

“As a completely new form of business not previously authorized by law, cultivation of medical marijuana is not found on the list of uses allowed in I-1 Industrial District,” Streubel noted. Therefore, the P&Z needed to make a determination. 

Streubel also informed the P&Z that their decision would be final, it would not need to be approved by the Board of Aldermen. Current city codes allows P&Z to approve any other use which is of the same general character as other businesses in I-1.

After much discussion, the P&Z voted unanimously that the “proposed use of the property is of the same general character as the existing list of uses for the “I-1” Light Industrial District.”

City Clerk Jane Hungler forwarded notice of this approval to TRMG the following day. The sale of the property was expected to advance quickly so that TRMG could complete their application for approval to the state. The state will need to give approval before the project can move forward. 

Only two medical marijuana grow facilities will be approved in each congressional district in the state. 

Such a facility could provide an economic boon to the city. It is unknown exactly how many jobs will be added when the grow operation becomes active, but it will certainly provide some new jobs.

Once constructed, the facility will provide increased property taxes. 

A visitor at the special meeting, Otis Schulte, estimated that those property taxes would be in the neighborhood of $8,000 to $10,000 annually.

Struebel said at the meeting that he believed TRMG had experience in operating marijuana grow facilities in other states. Under Missouri law, he noted, an out-of-state corporation must partner with a Missouri entity in order to comply with existing law. 

According to www.corporationwiki.com, “Trmg Investments LLC filed as a Domestic in the State of California on Monday, May 6, 2019 and is approximately three months old, as recorded in documents filed with California Secretary of State.”

DHSS began accepting applications from prospective medical marijuana businesses since December 2018, Streubel informed P&Z. It began officially accepting and processing the applications Aug. 3. Granting or denying the applications is expected in December 2019.

Linda Trest is a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission.