Plans for a pharmaceutical marijuana manufacturing facility in Cottage Grove’s Business Park underwent several minor changes earlier this month ahead of the Dec. 1 deadline when the Minnesota health commissioner is expected to register two in-state facilities.

The updated development agreement between the Cottage Grove Economic Development Authority and Leafline Labs consists of “ministerial actions,” City Administrator Ryan Schroeder said at a recent EDA meeting.

The most notable changes are a smaller building where medical marijuana would be manufactured and the addition of a sidewalk near the facility.

Leafline Labs - formed by several members of the Bachman floral franchise but not affiliated with Bachman Inc. - is one of a handful of entities vying for two licenses to manufacture medical marijuana in Minnesota. The project’s future is contingent on Leafline Labs being selected as a state-approved manufacturer. If chosen, it plans to begin manufacturing medical marijuana by July 2015.

Leafline Labs is proposing to build on 24 acres adjacent to Renewal by Andersen in the city’s Business Park.

“As we’ve gone through (the) project development with the end user, things here and there have been tweaked,” Schroeder said. “We don’t see them as particularly significant but we want to make sure the development agreement reflects them.”

The updated plan shaves about 9,000 square feet from the first phase of construction, scaling the building down to 41,000 square feet. Schroeder said it remains a two-phase construction project but the new plan is to split the landscaping segment into two phases to coincide with development.

The updated development plan also includes the addition of a sidewalk along 97th Street. Schroeder said the sidewalk, along with two concrete aprons, will be installed as part of the $600,000 street extension project slated for 2015. The cost of the sidewalk installation will be assessed to Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies, the developer of Leafline Labs.

Other adjustments to the development plan include: allowing 8,000-square-foot temporary modular units on the property - which must be removed by Dec. 31, 2015 - during the initial start-up phase of the business; construction of a fire access lane on the west side of the building with the anticipation that the future building expansion will be in the same area; and the allowance to extend the water main looping to the southwest of the property at the time of the building expansion.  

The expansion, to which Leafline Labs would grow to approximately 108,500 square feet, is proposed to occur within three years, with about 150 full-time employees staffing the operation by the third year.

Cottage Grove officials met with the Department of Health earlier this week, and Mayor Myron Bailey said the feedback was positive.

“I’m very confident (Leafline will be chosen),” he said in an interview. “They were extremely impressed with how thorough and how good our presentation was. It’s sounding very, very positive and we’re hoping this moves forward.”

Bailey said the state was meeting with a number of cities yet this month as it narrows down options for the two manufacturers.

Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, who advocated for medical marijuana during the last legislative session when the state law was passed, said because the project is attached to a name as prominent as Bachman, it shows professionalism and willingness to mix business with compassion.

“Peter (Bachman) has really mapped this out,” Schoen said of the president of Leafline Labs. “They have been working around the clock, nonstop to get this up and running. And he feels morally compelled to help people. This group really cares.”

Bailey echoed Schoen and said while the business venture would be financially successful, it’s more about providing sick patients with relief.

Schoen, a Cottage Grove police officer, also said from a public safety standpoint the facility had met and exceeded all security issues.

While there is a Dec. 1 deadline for the state to register two medical marijuana manufacturers, the health commissioner could request a six-month extension if the department is unable to find and register a manufacturer.

“It could come down to a 24-hour notice,” Bailey added.

If the state approves Leafline Labs’ application, Schroeder said he expects a Dec. 4 real estate closing on the property and a Dec. 5 permit issuance.