By Jessica Mathews /

A developer looking to open up a marijuana establishment in the Village of Pinckney has cleared a preliminary hurdle – although it doesn’t mean the project has been given final approval.

At a virtual meeting held Monday night, the Planning Commission granted a conditional rezoning of property at 935 West Main Street from High Density Residential to RTO or Research-Technology-Office; which is the Village’s version of industrial. The property houses the old, vacant Pinckney Elementary School but Howell Developer Chris Bonk is seeking to repurpose the existing building on site for potential Marijuana establishments. A proposed rendering is pictured. He has to rezone the property first in order to pursue any type of marijuana-related license through the Village. Since it is a conditional rezoning, if the project doesn’t come to fruition or a license isn’t obtained from the state for a cannabis facility, then the property would revert back to the original zoning. Council will have the final say on the rezoning and a vote is likely at the January 25th meeting.

The Village has a limited number of different licenses that will eventually be granted. Both the zoning regulations and actual marijuana ordinance establishing where different types of facilities could be located has already been drafted and approved, which was done in quick fashion given tight time constraints the Village had to adhere to.

Village President Rebecca Foster clarified that it was only the rezoning that received preliminary approval at the Planning Commission meeting– not any project. She told WHMI the only thing left to do now is draft the actual application forms, the application process and a scoring system in case there are multiple applications for a single license - which should be done by March or April at the latest. Foster stressed the Village is not licensing anything yet as they are not they are not ready and ask that people be patient, saying they want to make sure they get things right and cover all of their bases as far as the applications and process. She said some businesses have sent in cannabis facility license applications but those are not the Village’s so they can’t do anything with them. Foster noted that when it does come time for those interested to apply, she thinks the direction they’re headed is that any applicant would at least need to be pre-qualified by the state for them to even consider a local license, and then the applicant would go through the full state licensing process.

Meanwhile, the owners of Hell Survivors - a large paintball complex off Pearl Street - have been at some meetings and have also reached out to the Village about licensing. Foster noted that property is eligible to apply for licenses and is already zoned RTO. A portion abuts the Lakeland Trail but Foster said it’s a big enough parcel to still meet setback requirements, which includes a 500-foot buffer between any establishments and parks or trails.

A link to more information about Bonk's request and Village regulations is provided. School Photo - Google Street View.