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City council approves marijuana business permit

The Three Forks City Council unanimously approved a conditional use permit to Top Shelf Botanicals Montana LLC. for a marijuana dispensary within the city zoning limits along with a conditional use permit for an existing non-permitted apartment and a minor subdivision request by RCREI Inc. for a RV park in town, during its June 14 meeting.

The marijuana dispensary will open inside a building, which TSB Montana LLC. will remodel, located at the 279 Frontage Road property owned by Rob Norman.

The Three Forks Zoning and Planning Board recommended that the city approve the permit pending the submission of a site plan, which the applicants supplied to the city council prior to the meeting. The plan proposes a 560-square-foot building with four customer parking spaces and one employee space.

While the new marijuana business is not within 500 feet of any restricted buildings, such as a church, school or park, Councilman George Chancellor raised concern that the business's signs will be too close in proximity to Three Forks High School and that its the first thing people see when they come into town.

"About every kid that goes to school goes by there and then immediately they're at school," Chancellor said.

TSB Montana LLC.'s CEO, who attended the meeting in-person, explained that the business's signage will not directly say marijuana or depict any marijuana leaves.

"We do upscale dispensaries. ... And we do upscale signs," he said.

The CEO went on to say they plan to put around $75,000 into the building remodel.

In addition to the new marijuana dispensary, Three Forks will receive a new RV campground. RCREI LLC., which also operates in Eastland, Texas, filed the minor subdivision application on July 26, 2021. Montana law categorizes a subdivisions as minor when it divides the land into five or fewer parcels.

The application proposed the construction of four RV sites and three short-term rental cabin sites at 126 E Jefferson St., which resides within the 100-year floodplain.

Although the zoning and planning board recommended approval of the minor subdivision application, it required the applicants to meet 24 conditions. These conditions addressed matters such as landscaping, water drainage and other building specifics.

Approval of the preliminary subdivision request limits RCREI LLC. to three years for construction. If the company requires more time, it can file for an extension.

While the other applications focused on new developments, the city council also considered a conditional use permit for an existing, unpermitted apartment.

The application, filed by Peggy Gazy on April 5, provides an "after the fact" conditional use permit for a multi-family dwelling in a residential area. The council unanimously approved the permit with the condition that the permit note the building has not been inspected for code compliance.