Wrangell’s Planning and Zoning Commission denied an appeal for a proposed marijuana cultivation and manufacturing business Thursday. Owner of the Diamond C Café, Kelsey Martinsen, appealed an earlier decision based upon Wrangell’s current zoning code for the commercial district.

Martinsen wants to set up his proposed business, Happy Cannabis, behind his café on Front Street. He wants to cultivate and manufacture marijuana and sell his product in a retail store. The current code for the commercial district would not allow cultivation or manufacturing. Martinsen’s appeal asked the commission to recommend allowing this to the Assembly.

The commission talked about deferring the decision and waiting for the Borough Assembly to make its final say on marijuana laws, but most members did not like the idea of putting it off.

The commission unanimously decided to deny Martinsen’s appeal. He said he expected that decision, but is frustrated with the uncertainty of the process.

“Just because it’s marijuana, we have all these conditional use permits. It’s frustrating,” said Martinsen. “I’m a legal business man trying to start a business that will employ 10 people, generate over $147,000 in taxes a year. So I’m frustrated.”

Martinsen says he still plans to apply for conditional use permits for both cultivation and manufacturing after the Assembly makes its decision. He is currently moving forward with his state application for the retail store.

Economic Development Director, Carrol Rushmore, said the retail portion would be permitted under the current code, but added that it could be a risk to move forward without the Assembly’s final decision. The state contacts all boroughs where applications are filed to confirm that proposed businesses would comply with local regulations.

“Who knows how long the state will take. Because the city is reviewing this, I don’t know,” said Rushmore regarding the state’s response to Martinsen’s retail application.

Borough Manager, Jeff Jabusch, said he’s also uncertain of where Martinsen’s application would end up if the state were to call before an ordinance could be set.

“All we could tell them is that there’s been a recommendation by Planning and Zoning Commission to move to the Assembly level,” said Jabusch.

The commission also tackled its recommendations for areas zoned as rural. No grow operations, testing facilities, retail shops, or manufacturing would be allowed on plots less than one acre. A minimum of two acres would be needed for larger grow operations if the commission’s recommendations are passed.

Nothing is in the books yet, but the Assembly is set to look over the recommendations at its regular meeting on June 14. There will be a public hearing before that meeting.