Since legalized in December, marijuana regulations have been a hot topic on board agendas across the state, and Meridian Township is no exception.
Discussed at a majority of meetings in 2019, Zoning Amendment #19030 addresses medical marijuana use in Meridian Township.
At the Feb. 11 Planning Commissions meeting, Planning Commission Chair John Scott-Craig affirmed that this is a complicated issue that cannot just be addressed in one meeting. Topics of discussion were varied, including the overlay district area, reviewing the process for permits and the permitted locations.
The Feb. 25 meeting made some progress, discussing the deeper works of the ordinances.
Principal Planner Peter Menser provided an overview and the commission discussed the zoning districts. However, a lingering concern of the number of overlay districts and the high volume of facilities continued to persist. Six overlay districts and 21 facilities are planned for Meridian Township.
Commissioner David Premoe suggested requesting a meeting with the Township Board to discuss this topic further.
The March 11 meeting was a short one, with no public comments. This was a stark contrast to the number of people who spoke at previous meetings about this topic. However, this is due to a special joint meeting that was set for March 12. Residents could fill out request forms to discuss certain topics at the follow day’s meeting.
SPECIAL JOINT MEETING
At 6 p.m. on March 12, a joint meeting with the Township Board and the Planning Commission commenced. The meeting was hosted to find common ground on the two ordinances, the different facility types and the districts the facilities would be allowed in.
The first ordinance is a non-zoning ordinance that defines the Commercial Medical Marijuana Facilities. It limits the number of permits to three growers, three processors, six provisioning centers, six safety compliance facilities and three secure transporters. The ordinance also requires that a facility must be required to be 1,000 feet from any public or private school and 500 feet away from any place of worship, library, preschool or childcare center.
The zoning ordinance would establish Commercial Medical Marijuana Facilities Overlay Districts. Six zoning districts in the township have been identified.
“That is currently being reviewed by the Planning Commission because it is a zoning ordinance and requires them to make a recommendation on it,” said Mark Kieselbach, the Community Planning and Development Director of Meridian Township.
Many citizens came out to witness the joint meeting, with a handful speaking when the meeting began. From fellow planning commissioners to concerned parents, residents had an array of opinions on the matter.
“Some of the concerns that have been raised by citizens are valid, but many of those concerns are already addressed in the practical way that the citizens of the state of Michigan have adopted the Michigan regulation and taxation of marijuana act.
The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act and the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act,” said John Frazier, a professor at Cooley Law School who teaches about medical marijuana and law, “These three statutes together with the body of administrative law that will govern in this industry provides for a very secure and regulated space.”
A lottery system was also suggested prior to the meeting. If there are multiple applications for the same type of facility, those applications would be entered into a lottery to determine the order applications would be submitted for a permit.
“I think they should have to have a building designed prior to being able to enter the lottery,” said Ron Schultz, a resident and former planning commissioner, “I say that because the FCC would auction off licences for certain spectrums as well. You’re going to get a lot of people going for licences unless they have to have a specific site ahead of time.”
Even though the meeting was adjourned, citizens were not all on board about the ordinances.
“My position about marijuana is to not have it at all,” said Cindy Lou, a financial advisor and resident of Meridian Township, “When you analyze and debate on this issue and voting for it, please think about your kids, your grandkids, and the future generations to come. If we don’t set up a good environment for them, then who will we be.”
Watch the March 11 Planning Commission meeting and the joint meeting on HOM.tv.