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The planning commission took a closer look at a large scale development for the ReLeaf Center and shared concerns about the facility's two driveways.

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.

This application was initially tabled during the Aug. 1 work session because the applicant was not present to answer any of the commission's questions.

Associate planner Sarah Bingham said that the dispensary meets legally required buffer distances and that the health department has approved its septic plan.

Engineers hired by the city are still looking at the drainage plan to ensure it's adequate, she said.

The two on-site driveways meet city code requirements, she said, based on the design speed for a collector road -- which McNelly Road is designated as -- of 20 to 25 miles per hour.

To have a second driveway, the property is required to have 150 feet of street frontage and this property has 170, she explained.

Commissioner Don Robinson said he's concerned that, while it may meet code, one driveway is for customers and the other is for employees, meaning people are entering and exiting both of the drives.

"It looks like a dangerous situation because you've got coming and going in both of those parking lots," he said.

Commissioner Doug Farner said he agreed, and he believes the posted limit should be used rather than the master street plan's designation.

Commission chair Daniel Ellis said he thinks it would be worth getting input from a traffic engineer.

"I've done this for 20 years, this just does not look safe," he said.

Ellis said he was also concerned about the septic system, which was designed for a single service residence, not a business.

He noted the plan requires processed water from the greenhouse needs to be directed away from that septic system and inquired as to what that water is and what's being done with it.

Aaron Mullins, a consultant working for the applicant, said the septic system should be adequate. It's designed for a maximum of 15 people, he said, and the business does not intend to have more than 10 employees.

The new septic system will only serve the employee spaces, he said, and the front of the structure will be served by the existing septic system.

The processed water, he said, is nutrient-rich water runoff from the greenhouse. It will be heated in a large tank to evaporate the water and leave solids that can be collected and either sold back to fertilizer manufacturers, disposed of or donated to school greenhouses.

"It still has a lot of value," he said.

The traffic is a concern, he said, but he also expects it to decline as initial excitement dies down. Further, he said, the company intends to start a delivery service, in part because several customers have severe symptoms and would be better off not making the trip.

There's been some discussion about moving employee parking behind the greenhouse once it is in place, he said.

Many of the layout oddities are a result of the lot being very deep and narrow, he added.

"The width of the property has been a concern since the beginning," he said.

Ellis said the driveways are his largest concern.

"I think generally speaking, the only heartburn is having the two driveways," he said. "I know what our code says, but the speed limit out there is posted 45 miles per hour."

The commission is expected to vote on this development application during its regular meeting Monday, Sept. 9.

Another largescale development application to expand the parking lot for the Village Bible Church on Forest Hills Boulevard was withdrawn.

General News on 09/04/2019

Print Headline: Planning commission examines developments

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