The Joplin City Council will receive a recommendation that it reject a rezoning request that would allow the Silver Creek Park Wedding Chapel to be a medical marijuana dispensary.
The 5-1 vote by members of the Joplin Planning and Zoning Commission was the result of a public hearing Monday in which several surrounding businesses and residents objected to the proposed use.
Joe Burtrum Jr., the applicant and wedding chapel owner, said after the meeting that while he understands the concerns of the neighbors, he will continue with his pursuit.
He told the commission that the wedding chapel, 3925 S. Range Line Road, did have commercial zoning until Joplin annexed the village of Silver Creek. When the city annexes, all properties are brought into city limits with residential zoning and the owners can file a rezoning request. That way Joplin city officials can determine whether the zoning meets Joplin city code.
Burtrum asked for C-3 commercial zoning, which is the highest level of commercial zoning that is used for businesses with heavy traffic such as convenience stores. If he obtains the new zoning, he may sell it or lease it, or use it as a medical marijuana dispensary, he said.
Commission Chairman Pete Ramsour said the commission received several petitions of protest filed with the city by nearby property owners including Wheelen RV Center, 4301 S. Range Line Road, and the law firm of Christopher Dumm, 4000 S. Range Line.
A resident, Ansolea Corkle, said she has lived in Silver Creek since 1963. She told the zoning commission she believed a medical marijuana business would generate a lot of traffic that would disrupt the neighborhood. She also said that protests have been filed by surrounding businesses.
Another resident, Dody Walker, said she does not believe that the location fits the medical marijuana law's intent to have dispensaries located in what she said the law specifies as a "central business district." She also said added traffic in that area would pose a danger for residents, children riding bicycles and seniors who walk on the streets near the location.
"Any change in that location would just be too much of disruption," she said.
Derek Snyder, an attorney who lives in the Silver Creek neighborhood, said he understands that the application listed the potential use of the property as a dispensary, but because the C-3 classification allows retail or wholesale trade with high-volume traffic, it would be up to the commission and the City Council to determine whether the use is appropriate for the location.
He said that the property is not actually on Range Line Road but is on an outer road that crosses two of the main neighborhood streets.
Snyder said he and his family located to Silver Creek five years ago thinking they would move in a few years. "But we fell in love with Silver Creek."
"We fell in love with the area because it is quiet, because it's established, because the neighbors are nice, and because it's a pleasant place to live. And now the idea of having any type of C-3 establishment, especially a medical marijuana dispensary which may or may not exist there, and I understand that, any of these types of permitted uses or special permitted uses that fall within C-3 I think would definitely conflict with the neighborhood surroundings of Silver Creek," he said.
After the hearing closed, Commissioner Kent Eastman made a motion to send a recommendation to the City Council that the zoning request be denied. There was a vote of 5-1 in favor of the motion, with Wendy Brueckner-Sears voting against the denial.
Burtrum, after the meeting, said of the proposed medical marijuana dispensary, "I think it's something that needs to be there. It benefits the public" who are sick, particularly those with cancer who are sick from undergoing chemotherapy treatments. "It's just that people have a stigma of it from what they have seen in movies and on TV, and it's not going to be anything like that. It will be like having a pharmacy but more restrictive" because of the licensing and regulations by the state and the city.
"There's more rules than meet the eye," he said.
In other business, the commission recommendation approval of requests:
• To rezone property at 2902 E. 20th St. from residential to C-3 commercial for the construction of a tire and lube business.
• To rezone property at 407 and 411 E. 20th St. from two-family residential to neighborhood commercial for the operation of a nail salon.
• To declare property owned by the city of Joplin at 115 E. 34th St. as surplus. City staff said an appraisal of the property will be obtained, and then it will be put up for auction. The property is the former south branch station of the Joplin Police Department.