Upper Dublin Planning Commission Still Not Ready To Give Preliminary Approval To Medical Marijuana Dispensary Planned For Ft. Washington

The Upper Dublin Planning Commission met on October 17th and the hot topic discussed was the proposed medical marijuana dispensary planned for the vacant gas station property at the northwest corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Commerce Drive.  Bay LLC, represented by principal, Sil Lutkewitte, and along with an engineer, architect and attorney, presented the plan to the commission in hopes of gaining preliminary approval, but instead was met with resistance.

Bay LLC , operating as Cure PA, was awarded a medical marijuana dispensary permit to own and operate three dispensaries in the Philadelphia region: Lancaster, Phoenixville and Fort Washington.  They were confident that two of them; Lancaster and Phoenixville, would be operating by the end of December, 2017.  According to Lutkewitte, Bay LLC is comprised of individuals with deep healthcare expertise, as well as individuals who have owned and operated dispensaries in several states.  He described the company as, ” a patient-centric business that is aware and sensitive of the responsibility to the communities served.”  Right now, Bay LLC has a lease agreement, and is attempting to get a lease-to-buy agreement on the vacant Fort Washington property.

Architect, Chris Dawson, presented plans for the building (see below),and even though the new building will have the same footprint as the existing one, and some worthwhile improvements like: elevating the floor above the base flood level and land and street-scape improvements, the design was met with criticism from the commission , who didn’t feel that it reflects Fort Washington or the style and age of the surrounding buildings.  One commission member even stated, ” If you look around Fort Washington on either side, there is nothing like that.  It looks out of place.”  The proximity of one of the driveways to the traffic light is also a concern, and the commission felt that this corner entrance is problematic.  In addition to the aesthetic concerns, the Zoning Board still needs to review and approve certain changes like, height of the building, and Bay LLC is also still seeking a Flood Plain Ordinance.  These issues are being discussed at the October 30th Zoning Board meeting.

According to PA Act 16,  marijuana is to be grown, processed and sold in Pennsylvania to Pennsylvania residents, so the only way a patient has access to the product is by getting a doctor’s prescription, a valid permit, and proof of Pennsylvania residency.  Bay LLC assured the commission that there are significant safeguards in their facilities to make sure patients and caregivers comply with the law, and they have a zero tolerance policy with any part of the transaction.

Further complicating the issues, the medical marijuana business is cash only, no financial institution in the state is agreeing to accept deposits. The average transaction is $72.00, and 75-125 patients per day are expected.  There are safes, cash management, armored cars and security involved in operating the property, however Bay LLC states that, ” there is a tremendous amount of security around the growth and dispense process and significant security in the facility.”

Despite the delay and work to be done to get Cure PA’s Fort Washington location operating , Lutkewitte believes Bay LLC and the Planning Commission, “can work together so the property is part of the economic revival of the township.”