Pot farm approval hangs on aesthetics

By Laurie Hamame - lhamame@aimmediamidwest.com

A 3,000-square-foot cannabis farm must be ready for occupancy in Oberlin by the end of July, said Fadi Boumitri of Ascension Biomedical LLC.

The company has been awarded one of Ohio’s very few medical marijuana cultivator licenses by the state and is seeking approval to build its greenhouse, office, and warehouse on Artino Street in Oberlin.

The site plan came under review by the city planning commission on March 21. Members said the proposal is “90 percent” complete.

It shows a 15,000-square-foot facility. Boumitri, a lawyer from Cuyahoga County, said it would be made of light gray metal with a white roof and trim around the windows.

The Oberlin planning commission voted last June to restrict any pot growth operations to an M-1 light industrial district on the northeast side of the city. That means Artino Street is the only spot in town where the farm can go, especially since state regulations prevent cultivators from operating close to schools, parks, churches, libraries, and other public areas.

The site plan application had no major objections, but commission members requested a rendering of the proposed building.

They want to determine whether the colors, textures, and materials are appropriate for the building’s size and scale and whether they are compatible with adjacent structures.

Commission member Eric Gaines was concerned about the smell, asking whether all of Oberlin would smell like pot. Boumitri said a ventilation system would be used and the neighborhood would never know what is happening inside.

“Every inch of that place is under very high security,” Boumitri said. “There are a lot of precautions in place.” A six-foot high gate will also sit at the building’s entrance.

City planning director Carrie Handy assured the commission that under Ohio law the site could not be converted in the future to a dispensary where medical marijuana is sold.

She said the site plan will likely be approved at the next meeting.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

By Laurie Hamame