Planning Commission postpones marijuana decision until December

FLINT TWP. — The Planning Commission has decided to table until the end of the year a medical marijuana licensing facilities ordinance amendment that would allow specified medical marijuana businesses to operate in Flint Township .

After months of deliberation, the township board last month referred the ordinance to the Planning Commission for review and a recommendation.

The ordinance would establish rules for state-authorized medical marijuana businesses to operate in the township but the township also has the choice to “opt out” and not allow any of the businesses to locate here.

The township’s proposed ordinance was introduced in early March and came up for second reading at the board’s March 19, April 16 and May 7 meetings. It was postponed due to ongoing concerns about what was included or needed to be included in the language.

Upon recommendation for building director Randy Stewart, the board decided to first send the ordinance to its Planning Commission to make sure it passed muster with them and thus avoid any legal changes that would require it to go back through the adoption process.

Based on advice from Wade Trim Associates, a Detroit civil engineering, planning, and environmental science service, Stewart has spoken against passing the ordinance and in favor of opting out of allowing any facilities in the township. He cited potential detriment to existing township businesses and also concerns about law enforcement.

Stewart shared his opinion and other background information with the Planning Commission. He also stressed that people in the township needing medical marijuana can get it.

Stewart also noted that only three municipalities in Genesee County so far have opted into allowing medical marijuana facilities. He cautioned the commission about opening the gate to whatever opting in would bring to Flint Township.

At least four commissioners, already opposed to the ordinance, said they were ready to vote in favor of sending a “no” recommendation to the township board but agreed to wait until after the November election results before resuming the discussion.

Stewart said that a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana use is on the November ballot and, if passed by voters, would change the rules.

Stewart also advised waiting for the outcome of a lawsuit in southern Michigan which challenges placing a cap on how many medical marijuana facilities will be allowed. He had similar concerns about capping operations in Flint Township.

John Gazall, vice chairman of the planning commission. said his concern is to control as best they can the direction marijuana use is headed.

“We should have something in the zoning ordinance, “he said.

“If it is going to happen, I think we should protect ourselves as best we can. This (the ordinance) is the vehicle that does that. Let’s get it right.”

As it is currently written, the ordinance is intended to authorize certain types of medical marijuana facilities in the township, provide restrictions to protect public health and safety, mitigate impact on surrounding properties and defray administrative and enforcement costs by assessing and annual, nonrefundable fee of up to $5,000.

It would not allow dispensaries (retail and recreational sales) or provisioning centers, as defined by state law. It would allow Class A, B and C growers, processors, safety compliance facilities and secure transporters.

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