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The Bella Vista Planning Commission examined a proposed large-scale development for a medical marijuana dispensary in the city's planning area at 9400 McNelly Road.

According to a city staff report prepared for the development, the existing land use is commercial and the property currently includes a 2,520-square-foot former retail structure and a 4,600-square-foot parking area with one drive accessing McNelly road.

The proposed work includes an expansion to the current development footprint and another driveway, according to the staff report, as well as stormwater mitigation work to accommodate these updates which are associated with a medical cannabis dispensary permit issued by the state.

The plans included with the report also show a greenhouse behind the main structure.

"They're just expanding up northward, also proposing a secondary driveway," associate planner Sarah Bingham said.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported in its July 7 issue that the proposed dispensary at this location, The ReLeaf Center, was expected to open in early to mid-August.

Bingham said renovations have been started on the existing building and that the property owners have been working with the county as well.

Senior planner Derek Linn said that the county officials handle changes to the existing footprint, but the planning commission is seeing it now because there will be an additional disturbance to the land.

Commissioner Doug Farner said he was worried this work has already started without planning commission approval.

"Somebody needs to go out there and look, cause you can't even find the old building," he said. "It's just now coming before the planning commission. I'm concerned."

Additionally, planning commission chairman Daniel Ellis said he was concerned about processed water for the proposed greenhouse, which cannot go into the site's septic system.

Bingham said that the applicants need a plan to dispose of anything from the greenhouse, and city staff will ask about it.

Ellis said that he believes this item should be tabled until next month and viewed again at the Aug. 29 work session. It's difficult to make a decision on this with important questions going unanswered, he said.

"We got a lot of questions and we're all here, and the applicant's not here," Ellis said. "So we'll see them in a month."

The commission also examined another large-scale development for a parking lot expansion at the Village Bible Church on Forest Hills Blvd. which was tabled during the July 8 regular meeting because no drainage was proposed for excess stormwater created by the increased hard surface area.

Bingham said the applicant is in discussions with an engineer to add bioswales and/or drainage detention.

"Hopefully we'll receive some revised plans for the regular planning commission meeting," she said.

General News on 08/07/2019

Print Headline: Planning commission examines dispensary development

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