“I have been notified that the manager of the Potomac Oak Shopping Center has terminated the lease with the dispensary owner, Mikran LLC.” — County Councilmember Roger Berliner
Just a few weeks ago, it seemed the petition circulating around the neighborhood surrounding Potomac Oak Shopping Center at Travilah and Glen roads was too little, too late.
Plans were moving ahead to open a medical marijuana dispensary at the shopping center. Its opening was expected for the end of summer, according to Darren Weiss, vice president and general counsel of Zen Leaf Dispensaries, which planned to operate the dispensary. Weiss spoke to the Almanac in late April.
“The owner of the shopping center has bowed to the community opposition and has terminated the lease,” Jason Levine, who started the petition on Change.org, wrote in an email. “The dispensary has been defeated.”
Levine sent a copy of the petition to County Councilmember Roger Berliner.
“I have been monitoring the developments regarding the proposed dispensary, and have heard the opposition expressed by your community and the tenants of the shopping center,” Berliner wrote to Levine. “This sentiment was further conveyed following the community meeting held by the proposed tenant, Mikran LLC (Zen Leaf Potomac), on Friday, April 27, 2018.”
He then shared with Levine the news he hoped for:
“I have been notified that the manager of the Potomac Oak Shopping Center has terminated the lease with the dispensary owner, Mikran LLC. For your convenience, I have attached letters from the manager to Mikran LLC and to the tenants of the shopping center regarding the termination of the lease. It is clear that the voices of the community and other tenants regarding this matter were heard and responded to promptly by the shopping center owner.”
Meanwhile Guy Semmes, manager of Potomac Oak Shopping Center, responded to the outcry he heard too. Not only were several neighbors against the idea of the proposed medical marijuana dispensary, some of the current tenants of the center were too.
In notifying Mikran LLC that he was terminating the lease, Semmes wrote, “It is with regret that I provide notice, …, of Landlord’s decision to terminate the Lease Agreement for the reasons provided herein. …
“Recall that, pursuant to the Lease Agreement, Landlord was provided a limited right of termination ‘[i]n the event that (i) suit is filed against the Landlord, and/or another tenant within the same shopping center as the Premises determines to terminate its lease with Landlord, in either case solely as a result of Tenant’s use of the Premises as a licensed medical cannabis dispensary.’ (Lease Agreement § 3).
“As you know, after jointly conducting a number of meetings with neighboring tenants and the broader community, last week I was contacted by several of my existing tenants in the same shopping center as the Premises and advised that they would be terminating their leases solely as a result of Tenant’s use of the Premises as a licensed medical cannabis dispensary. Given the foregoing, I have determined to exercise the termination right set forth above. I can confirm that the termination decision is unrelated to Tenant’s action(s) or omission(s) and is solely a result of my notification from other tenants of their determinations to terminate.”
Semmes does see a bright side to the controversy and discussions following the plan to open the dispensary. In a letter to the current tenants he wrote:
“After a great deal of research and reviewing [the planned tenants] from the standpoint of professionalism, I believe that they would have been a good tenant, but the time does not seem to be right. The feedback that some of you shared with me after the community meeting and the concerns that some of you were hearing from your clients or customers made me grateful for the quality of tenants you are, and I did not want to undermine that.
“The good news is that more people in the neighborhood are aware of our center now, and I plan to take advantage of this by asking our neighbors what they would like to see in their community shopping center. I plan to send an emailing out to all those who showed concern and give them a way to respond.”