Some businesses opposing Buchanan dispensary's expansion plans

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BUCHANAN, Mich. -- There is some pushback on the rapidly growing legal marijuana industry in Buchanan.

A successful recreational store there wants to expand, but some say enough is enough.

Zen Leaf was Buchanan’s first dispensary and they’ve had success just like the other four also located on Front Street.

They’d now like to acquire the long-vacant, conjoining building, but some wish a new industry could start to grow instead.

“There’s enough foot traffic coming into the community, I have 25 to 35 people every day in my store asking where they can get something to eat, where they can get ice cream, but unfortunately there aren’t a lot of options,” said Richard Paniagua, owner of Cannavista Wellness.

Zen Leaf already got approval Tuesday from the planning commission to expand into its next-door building, one Mayor Sean Denison said hasn’t had any other prospective buyers and has been vacant for at least a decade. 

“In our mind, it doesn’t matter what business it is, there’s still going to be traffic,” said Mayor Denison. “The city way before this commission approved for marijuana to be here, so it’s hard now that they’re here and doing well to tell them they can’t expand.”

Buchanan has had a lot of interest in its downtown’s future, Andrews University just wrapped up a months-long redesign pitch, and that’s why some of Zen Leaf’s neighbors think it will hurt the city if there aren’t more options for visitors beside the cannabis industry.

“We had the wonderful Andrews University future plan and phase two really would be restaurant development,” said Alan Robandt, owner of Alan Robandt Antique. “I was a big advocate for cannabis coming to Buchanan, but with Zen Leaf wanting to expand, there’s already a parking problem over there, if they would spend the money across the street at the video store, they would actually be making a huge contribution to Buchanan.”

The vacant building across the street is the former Hometown Video, which could provide more parking options on Days Avenue.

Zen Leaf and its parent company Verano Holdings both declined ABC57’s request for comment.

Their expansion proposal now goes to the full city commission for approval July 26.

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