GWINN — The Forsyth Township Planning Commission unanimously voted on Monday to recommend to the township board proposed zoning ordinance amendments regarding medical and adult-use marijuana establishments.
The amendment to the zoning ordinance, dependent on township board approval, would allow the establishments in the Commercial C-1 and C-2 districts and the industrial 1-1 and 1-2 districts.
Marijuana-related businesses listed for conditional uses among the four districts include operations such as growers, processors, transporters, provisioning centers, retailers and safety-compliance facilities.
Planning Commissioner Neil Armatti questioned the planning commission’s proposed ordinance amendments, particularly the language stating that caregivers who hold medical cards could operate only in a commercial district, which he noted happens most frequently in residences.
Township Attorney Matthew Kuschel said, “That is how this draft was put together, simply because we knew that the township was open to having marijuana uses in those districts. Now whether or not you permit caregivers to operate in residential districts really is your decision.”
Armatti also questioned how the caregiver/commercial issue would be regulated.
“How are you going to choose what places are allowed to grow and who’s not if they’ve been doing it for 10 years?” he asked.
Marquette County Commissioner Bill Nordeen, who attended Monday’s meeting, said the ordinance was well written but was surprised to see medical marijuana included along with recreational marijuana.
“There’s two different things going on, and now we tie them all together, and I think it’s probably going to put a burden on the medical marijuana people,” Nordeen said. “That’s part of it in general. More specifically, though, you’re going to end up with this grandfathering and pre-existing, non-conformity activity, so everyone that was legally allowed to be doing medical marijuana before today is going to be grandfathered in, and how are you going to prove that up?
“It’s going to create a lot of chaos and uncertainty because everyone was allowed to be doing it in their residences, and a lot of people did in this town.”
After much discussion, the commission voted unanimously to remove a section dealing with primary caregivers and remove the caregiver designation from the Commercial C-1 and C-2 districts and the industrial 1-1 and 1-2 districts.
The ordinance reads that regulations shall be amended to add general marijuana regulations, which include that no such building or structure shall be established on any lot less than one acre in area. Lighting shall be directed away from and be shielded from adjacent properties and be arranged to not adversely affect those properties or driver visibility on nearby public roads.
Additionally, every building housing a marijuana business shall be equipped with an odor control or filtration system to ensure that odors leaving the building are not detectable on any adjacent property unless a professional mechanical engineer licensed in Michigan provides a written explanation of why and how all detectable odors will be contained on the property.
Signage for marijuana facilities and establishments shall comply with requirements of applicable township ordinances.
The township board in January voted to opt in for medical and recreational marijuana, but was waiting for the planning commission’s recommendations on proposed zoning ordinance amendments. The township board will make the final decision on the ordinance.
Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org