A committee of the Pine Bluff City Council on Tuesday recommended that a section of property on South Olive Street be rezoned from residential to highway commercial at the request of the property owner, who wants to establish a marijuana distribution facility there.


Alderman Bill Brumett and Alderwoman Thelma Walker, who, with Chairman Alderman Glen Brown Jr., make up the Planning and Development Committee, heard City Zoning Inspector Lakeisha Hill say that the property is past Ridgway Road and is actually two parcels of land with deep acreage.


She said the request was previously approved 7-0 by the Planning Commission, which held a public hearing at which there was no opposition. In addition, adjacent property owners were contacted and a notice was run in The Commercial. The master use plan for the area is commercial, Hill said.


A B-3 Highway Commercial designation, which is what the owner is seeking, would allow for the sale of pharmaceuticals, and Brumett said that designation would permit other types of businesses, such as a dollar store that sells, for example, cold and pain medications, to operate on that property. It is not known if the owner of the property has applied for one of the state-issued permits to operate a marijuana facility. The application deadline was in September.


Arkansas will allow five cultivation facilities and 32 dispensaries, with the dispensaries divided equally among eight parts of the state. The five-member Medical Marijuana Commission will spend the coming weeks going through the applications and scoring them based on several factors, including the ability to operate the facility, qualifications and its operations plan.


Also on Tuesday, the committee recommended that an ordinance updating the city’s electrical code be approved by the city council when they meet Monday. Inspection and Zoning Department Director Mitzi Ruth said the proposed ordinance would replace the 2014 electrical code with the new updated one.


Ruth also discussed a request from resident Demerius Melvin, who wants to buy a piece of city-owned property near the 5800 block of West Sixth Avenue on which he plans to place a mobile home and use for a permanent residence. Melvin is offering $600 for the property, and the committee recommended that he be allowed to buy the land.