Oregon District medical marijuana store gets OK; some neighbors not happy

Marijuana plants inside Buckeye Relief’s 25,000-square-foot facility in Eastlake, Ohio. DAVID PETKIEWICZ/ADVANCE OHIO MEDIA
Marijuana plants inside Buckeye Relief’s 25,000-square-foot facility in Eastlake, Ohio. DAVID PETKIEWICZ/ADVANCE OHIO MEDIA

A medical marijuana shop planned for the Oregon District is moving forward after being redesigned to try to quash criticism that it looked too much “like a Wendy’s.”

The Dayton Landmark Commission this month approved the revised plans for the Strawberry Fields dispensary proposed for 333 Wayne Ave., as long as the color scheme met certain conditions.

“It certainly looks a lot better to me than the original” design, said Fred Holley, a member of the landmark commission.

But some Oregon District residents disagree. They think the revised design does not preserve the character of the building and is wrong for the area.

“Both designs look like they belong in the suburbs, not at a prominent historic thoroughfare and entrance-way to Dayton’s oldest historic district,” resident Monica Snow wrote in an e-mail to the landmark commission.

MORE: Oregon District medical marijuana shop design criticized: 'This looks like Wendy's'CannAscend Ohio LLC wants to open a new medical pot dispensary at the Wayne Avenue location.

The building was constructed as an auto service shop in 1947, which post-dates the Oregon District’s period of historical significance of roughly 1830 to 1920, city officials said.

The auto shop was modified to be a travel agency in the 1980s.

In November, Oregon District neighbors and historic preservationists strongly criticized the initial design of the pot dispensary, saying it looked like a fast-food restaurant that belonged in the suburbs.

The dispensary’s architect was asked to modify and re-submit a design that better maintained the historic character of the shop.

Earlier this month, the architect returned before the Dayton Landmark Commission, and commission members generally were pleased with the updated design.

The revised design keeps the existing storefront glass, maintains the curved corners and eliminates a stacked stone foundation, as recommended by the commission, said Rachel Bankowitz, Dayton’s historic preservation officer.

The modified design did a good job of trying to make the dispensary resemble the original auto shop, board member Holley said.

No one at the landmark commission meeting spoke in opposition to the plans. But the commission did receive more than half a dozen letters from citizens who expressed concern about various details of the project or criticized the design as being incompatible with the area.

The Oregon Historic District Society Board of Trustees, which has no authority to deny the plan, voted to oppose the revised design.

Bethany Ramsey, the group’s president, said the redesign did not address the feedback and landmark commission’s recommendations about issues with the plans and does not maintain the art deco and other features of the building.

Oregon District resident Nicole Steele in a letter to the commission said removing the art deco features would be a “travesty.”

This “is not a build somewhere in the suburbs,” she wrote. “This is a modification to a historic structure.”

Landmark commission member Scott Sliver voiced concern about the opposition from citizens, especially from the Oregon Historic District board of trustees.

But in the end, the landmark commission members said they felt the design was closer to the original, historic look and greatly improved on the building’s current appearance.

The commission unanimously approved the dispensary’s request for a major certificate of appropriateness, which was needed for the project to move forward.

In Other News