Flint, MI—A plan to relocate the Flint Children’s Museum to the old farmers’ market building received push back from Flint City Council members who raised concern over a new marijuana facility moving in next door.
“I’m gonna keep it real,” said Councilman Quincy Murphy at the Feb. 8 council committee meeting. “I ain’t into seeing no marijuana dispensary right next to no children’s museum. That’s just not a good look for me.”
The facility in question is owned by Sozo, a cannabis company with three other locations in Michigan, and renovations have already begun at 1101 Robert T Longway Blvd.
“It has the big green leaf on it,” Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter said of the former bank building which sits adjacent to the proposed new location for Flint Children’s Museum at 420 E. Boulevard Dr. “So I’m just wondering, how are we gonna juggle this now?”
Winfrey-Carter asked Flint’s Acting Economic Development Director, Samantha Fountain, for details regarding the Children’s Museum’s understanding of its potential new neighbor.
“I did speak with the Executive Director, Kimberly Roddy, of the Flint Children’s Museum and they are aware that the dispensary is going in there,” Fountain said. “To my knowledge, it’s not going to affect anything.”
Flint’s Planning Commission Director Suzanne Wilcox added that the marijuana facility had been approved by the Planning Commission back in April 2021.
Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer asked for some clarification: “This Council hasn’t approved it yet, correct?”
“That is correct,” Wilcox said.
“So it has not been approved,” Pfeiffer said, referring to the need for Flint City Council to approve Sozo’s licenses brought before it by the Planning Commission. “Thank you.”
Wilcox did not respond to Flint Beat’s repeated inquiry as to whether the Planning Commission’s approval was granted before or after the Flint Children’s Museum’s intent to move into the adjacent building was known.
However, there is no provision in the city’s current marijuana ordinance that states the marijuana facility cannot operate next to a children’s museum, something which City Administrator Clyde Edwards pointed out on behalf of Sozo and other potential applicants.
“While I understand the impassioned pleas from the councilmen,” Edwards said. “I think you will be sending a terrible message to your business community and those who invest … if you do anything that is inconsistent with the regulations that you put in place concerning marijuana facilities.”
Councilwoman Allie Herkenroder, who represents the 7th Ward where both buildings are located, seconded Edwards’ statement.
“Exactly what Mr. Edwards said. I understand it, but also the children’s museum wanted that spot. They wanted it really bad,” Herkenroder said. “That’s why we had to go through all of that stuff. In my opinion that’s on them to deal with it.”
Herkenroder added that the old farmers market parcel is “huge” and that the council doesn’t know how the children’s museum plans to use it.
“They very well could have their building built on the complete other side of that lot to distance themselves from that (marijuana facility),” Herkenroder said.
Both the Flint Children’s Museum’s building sale agreement and memorandum of understanding were passed through for to be voted on at the Feb. 14 city council meeting. Wilcox said she believed the marijuana facility’s licensing approval would be presented at the following council committee meeting on Feb. 23.