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Harrisville limits marijuana shops

News Photo by Crystal Nelson The future location of Consume Harrisville Provisioning Center is seen in Harrisville this week.

HARRISVILLE — The Harrisville City Council has restricted the number of recreational marijuana shops that can operate in the city limits.

Officials have already approved three applications, which will lead to shops being opened in the coming weeks, but the council voted 4-1 recently to allow no more marijuana shops and promote other types of business development.

Mayor Jeff Gehring said other potential investors are still interested in opening other marijuana businesses, but no further applications will be considered.

Gehring said the council decided that, from this point on, the market will dictate if more are needed and the limit on marijuana shops could be adjusted in the future.

“We didn’t want people to think that all we were focusing on was cannabis,” Gehring said. “I think the market will show three will be good, or maybe just one, and we just felt it was a good idea to put a cap on it for now.”

Gehring said there are plenty of opportunities for other types of businesses in the city. People will visit Harrisville to go to the marijuana shops, and the mayor hopes they’ll stop at other established businesses and others that could come in the future.

“The long-term business strategy is we hope we will have businesses spring up, like a bakery, a cafe, or other things,” he said. “We hope the marijuana businesses will be building blocks and stepping stones for others.”

Gehring said he has recently been in contact with the marijuana shop owners whose applications have been approved, as well as another who intends to build a growing and processing facility at an old factory, and things are moving ahead.

“I have been told it could be a few weeks from two and before the end of the year for the other,” he said. “Work at the old plant is going on, as we speak.”

Gehring said the projects have been stalled slightly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the fact that there have been many state employees working from home, and fewer in the field, has made the regulatory process drag on a little longer than hoped.

“They just don’t have as many boots on the ground right now, and that slowed things some,” Gehring said. “I think everything that needed to be ironed out has been.”

Looking into the future, Gehring said he thinks the addition of the marijuana businesses, working in unison with other types of businesses, could help the city reinvent itself.

“For many years, we were a fishing community, and that drove our businesses and economy, but that isn’t the case anymore,” he said. “This may never bring us back to that level of success, but the residents of Harrisville voted for this, and we are following through on their wishes.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.

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