Township officials upset about mailing absentee ballots out late

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Meridian Township Board members criticized the township’s clerk at its most recent meeting for mailing absentee ballots out late. The rest of the meeting covered updates on the new marihuana dispensaries and Michigan State University’s solar panel project.   

Delay in sending out absentee ballots
Dan Opsommer, a township trustee, said absentee ballots were mailed out February 14, only 25 days before the Michigan Primaries on March 10, which is in violation of the state law requirements that every voter gets their absentee ballot no later than 40 days before an election.

He said the state law’s intent was to allow overseas and military service member voters to vote.

Because of the delay in absentee ballots and other “ongoing concerns” with Meridian Township Clerk Brett Dreyfus, township trustees received a letter from Barb Byrum, Ingham County Clerk.

“Clerk Dreyfus is clearly not following the Bureau of Elections’ mandate to return Absent Voter ballots to those voters who requested them immediately (within 24 hours) or even as soon as possible,” said Opsommer.

When Clerk Dreyfus noticed the delay in absentee ballots he sent out an email stating voters will receive their ballots a month before the election.

The letter said: “Finally, on February 6, 2020, Clerk Dreyfus sent an email to a portion of the Permanent Absent Voter Ballot Application list indicating that Absent Ballots will be sent out ‘approximately 30 days before the election.’ This flies in the face of the State’s Bureau of Elections directive that ballots be sent out immediately after being received within the 40 day-pre-election window.”

The letter from the Ingham County Clerk’s office will be in the minutes for the next meeting and will be available for the public.

Marihuana Dispensaries 

Meridian Township residents said having a marihuana dispensary across from a residential neighborhood would bring down the property value of the homes. This dispensary is located at 3520 Okemos Rd.

Benjamin Joffe, representative of the Haslett Gallery Medical Marihuna Provisioning Center applicant, completely disagrees. He said overall, it is going to help caregivers and patients.

Joffe said: “I think it is going to give access to patients and caregivers. It is safe access. I believe that is a big thing in our community especially with the vitamin E issues we have been dealing with recently. Now we can make sure that we have an outlet in this community with safe tested medicine for patients.”  

While other township board members have expressed other concerns such as odor and loitering, other officials are no longer concerned about the medical marihuana.

Ken Lane, chair of the Meridian Township’s planning commission — said: “I believe the applicants when they say these are very non- discrete buildings. There are not a lot of people coming and going. There was a perception that there might be loitering, but I don’t think that is going to happen.”

Betty Bigsby, Meridian Township deputy clerk, does not live in the township, but does not think dispensaries will be harmful to the community.

Bigsby said, “in my own municipality the medical marihuana facilities were probably the most peaceful facilities because they don’t want to do something to lose their license.”

MSU’s solar array project

Michigan State University is partnering with Meridian Township on its solar array project to encourage renewable energy throughout the township, said Patricia Herring Jackson, Meridian Township trustee.

“The location for these panels are a part of Meridian Township between Jolly and Bennett road,” said Herring Jackson. “The university is planning to build, I think a 20-megawatt solar array, and we want to cooperate with them in building that solar array.”

MSU solar array project by Mark Johnson on Scribd

The partnership with MSU will help bring renewable energy to the township. 

Herring Jackson said, “We want to cooperate with them to essentially help them build that and then be able to use some of that renewable energy in Meridian Township.”
A Lansing State Journal article reported, “A planned 110-acre solar array is expected to save Michigan State University more than $1 million a year and while increasing the share of renewable energy powering the East Lansing campus.”

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