Posted on 28 August 2020.
Our quaint little town of Cedar Springs is facing a major threat to the character and values of its citizens and businesses alike. By potentially opening up our downtown and the city as a whole to multiple marijuana businesses, the City Council has completely ignored our Master Plan’s vision for our fair city.
The Master Plan Vision states, “Cedar Springs will build upon its small-town character by upgrading and reinforcing the downtown as a quaint center for community gatherings, recreation, specialty shopping and governmental services.” Its economic goals, in part, are to “Attract specialty businesses downtown that will enhance the unique character of the area.” Housing plans are to promote the single-family character of Cedar Springs and also provide a broad mix of housing types downtown. The plan calls for making it comfortable and easy for people to walk and bicycle throughout the city.
The City Council totally ignored the Planning Commission’s recommendation against allowing marijuana businesses in the downtown area. Our leadership is convinced that flooding the downtown with those businesses, for the purpose of renovating old buildings, is worth the risk to our community’s health, safety and general welfare. They are willing to try this “experiment” with little regard as to the possible damage it could do to our recently improved reputation in the area, our property values, and to current businesses.
Marijuana does not fit in our downtown. It does nothing to “enhance the unique character of the area” as described in the economic plan’s goals outlined in the Master Plan. The word “quaint” means charming, sweet, attractive, and old-world. That is what Cedar Springs is, a quaint little town where kids ride bikes, families walk downtown, and seniors feel safe. There is nothing quaint about armed guards standing outside a building on Main Street. There is nothing quaint about people lining up to be registered to go inside a marijuana shop.
A three-year study in Denver showed an increase in property crimes in the areas surrounding a marijuana shop, 83 a year over normal, or 1.6 a week and it is in our neighborhoods that the threat would exist. Because it is a cash only business, there is a further threat of criminal activity. Those businesses would be detrimental to the unique character and safely of the entire area.
The Planning Commission can stop this from happening downtown. If they follow the guidelines for a special land, use there is no way they could approve a marijuana business downtown. Those standards are listed in the City’s Ordinances.