Village lists land for medical pot facilities

The Village of Kalkaska will sell 10 acres of its taxpayer-owned land specifically for future medical marijuana facilities.

KALKASKA — Kalkaska village leaders unanimously agreed to sell nearly 10 acres of its taxpayer-owned land specifically for future medical marijuana facilities.

Members of the Village Council this week agreed to list for sale about 9.6 acres on the south side of East Dresden Street, along with the sale or lease of various village-owned and vacant spaces at the local airport.

Officials even hired a real estate brokerage team with expertise in the burgeoning medical marijuana property industry.

"You need somebody who knows what they are doing in terms of marketing these commercial properties," said Diana Needham, village trustee.

The real estate deal calls for a 3 percent commission to Team Bertram — the Traverse City-based real estate partnership of Ian and Melisa Bertram — with an exclusive listing right for 6 months. After that, the commission rate for the real estate team increases to 6 percent, according to the council-approved resolution.

The realtors are responsible for all title work for land sales, according to the agreement, and may earn a one-time commission payment the equivalent of one month's rent in any lease signing for the spaces at the airport.

The nearly 10 acres of village property now up for sale at 616 E. Dresden St. is within the municipality's industrial district and therefore already zoned for medical marijuana purposes. The decision to market the spot for the medical marijuana industry is based strictly on business analysis, said Scott Yost, village manager.

"We've been following the marketplace and have observed that property transactions seem to be at a higher value with the medical marijuana industry," Yost said.

He said village officials wish to test that hypothesis, especially if it can be done with "so-called green brokers." It's good business to hire specialists, Yost said.

Ian Bertram said he and his wife have worked with multiple buyers of upward of $250,000 worth of properties in the Traverse City area who are now awaiting local and state accreditation to begin medical marijuana operations. He sees Kalkaska as a growing market where officials have embraced the industry, Bertram said.

"I think they are going to pioneer the way for quite a few towns," he said. "Kalkaska is the first community we've worked with that had taxpayer lands for this."

Village President Harley Wales said Kalkaska selling land designated for medical marijuana facilities is the latest step in the community's efforts to stay at the forefront of Michigan's growing cannabis economy.

"We've tried to stay on the cutting edge of medical marijuana from the very beginning," Wales said.

Bertram said he already has an interested buyer for the East Dresden Street location who comes with hopes to build a medical marijuana cultivation facility there.

The Bertrams work from the Real Estate One office on East Front Street in downtown Traverse City.

The property sales are intended to help boost village coffers in the wake of some large expenses in the form of legal settlements, primarily from three pair of plaintiffs who sued the village in 2014 over health insurance coverage. The settlement cost the village $1.63 million to be paid over the course of two years — last year the first payments were made and the final payments are due in September this year.

Program to focus on recreational pot planning, zoning

SUTTONS BAY — Planning and zoning issues connected to Michigan's new recreational marijuana law will be the focus of a coming presentation.

The Leelanau County Planning Commission will host the free program set to begin at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, in the lower level of the Government Center, 8527 E. Government Center Drive, Suttons Bay. Snacks will be available during a social gathering until 7 p.m., when a talk about planning and zoning for recreational marijuana will be presented, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Mary Reilly, government and public policy educator with Michigan State University Extension, is expected to speak during the event, to which the public is invited to participate.

For more information, or to RSVP, call 231-256-9812 or send email to planning@co.leelanau.mi.us online.

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