2017-08-06 / News

Medical marijuana supporters try to persuade Chesaning Township

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

CHESANING TWP. – During the Aug. 2 meeting, a group of medical marijuana supporters, including four Chesaning business owners, tried to persuade the Chesaning Township Planning Commission to move forward with an ordinance that would allow medical marijuana enterprises.

Jason Pasko, of Detroit, talked about representing an individual who recently purchased a building at 700 Brady St. for the purpose of growing cannabis. He explained he and the individual he represents have an interest in several casinos; and are knowledgeable in providing the type of security a medical marijuana growing operation would need.

Pasko said, “We’re happy to be part of this community and are looking forward to great and fruitful opportunities here. We already have grow facilities in three states, Colorado, California and Michigan.”

Robert Zelle, of Saginaw, said he sells organic fertilizer. He said, “This thing is really taking off. We’re going to set up a business here [selling] an all-natural plant fertilizer. It’s going to create jobs and will bring revenue into this community.”

Beau Parmenter, who owns Elite Excavating as well as the old Peet Packing Plant in Chesaning Township, told the township planning commission that adopting a medical marijuana ordinance/opting in, “it’s something we can’t wait on. If we wait, we lose. It’s right on your doorstep.”

Parmenter told the planning commission, “When I originally saw that building [the Peet Packing Plant], I saw potential. It’s a great structure. I invested every bit of my life savings [to purchase it].”

Planning commission recording secretary Thomas Tithof asked, “Beau, are you leasing or selling the building?” Parmenter responded, “Selling. The money they’re investing, they’re very professional. We probably couldn’t find a better person to bring into Chesaning.”

Tithof responded to Parmenter, “I know you’ve invested a lot of money into Chesaning.”

Parmenter commented, “As a general contractor, I will be assisting.” He explained the old Peet Packing Plant and the Brady Street property would be run by the same company, but would be separate operations.

Parmenter said he already has a special use permit from the village of Chesaning.

From the audience Denise Navarre spoke up, “You went to the village planning commission? You got a permit from the village planning commission? No, I sit on the planning commission. I don’t remember giving you a special use permit. It’s awfully close to a church,” Navarre said.

Parmenter told Navarre he admired what she said during the planning commission meeting, and appreciated her vote in support of the medical marijuana ordinance.

Navarre said, “No, I abstained. I don’t think the village is ready for it.” She invited them to attend the village planning commission meeting.

Pasko said, “I would be more than happy to meet. This is a seven-day-a-week business, growing an exceptional product. There will be a lot of competition. We’ve hired some of the best growers in the country. I understand your concerns for it to be safe and secure. We can’t even put a sign on the building. Armored cars transport the product. It hires a ton of people in the community. We want the place to be beautiful. Chesaning is a perfect place for it. The business community is already saying ‘we want it’.”

Chesaning Township Trustee Pete Hemgesberg explained the township sent out a survey for the master plan with the summer tax bills. There was one question about whether residents feel commercial marijuana growing/selling facilities should be allowed in Chesaning Township. Residents responding said “no” on a two-to-one margin.

The following day, the Citizen obtained the official results of the survey from Chesaning Township Clerk Fran Kukulis. Township taxpayers voted against allowing medical marijuana with 28 yes to 70 no. Chesaning village taxpayers also responded to the survey with 32 yes to 30 no. Six surveys were returned without specifying village or township affiliation; of those, there was one yes vote to five no.

Hemgesberg explained they would have to change the minds of the township residents who said “no” to medical marijuana for the township to approve.

The medical marijuana supporters said they want to hold a forum to help people understand more about medical marijuana. They suggested holding a public forum with both township and village residents. Township officials said they are allowed to do so.

On Aug. 3, Hemgesberg told the township board that it’s an issue the board is eventually going to have to address.

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