2017-09-10 / Front Page

Chesaning residents voice concerns about medical marijuana

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

VILLAGE OF CHESANING – During the Sept. 5 meeting of the Chesaning Village Council, several residents expressed concerns about allowing medical marijuana facilities in the community.

The discussion began with a public hearing asking for public input about whether to sell a parcel of property owned by the village on Fransche Road. The village had originally purchased the property with the intent of building another runway. However, village president Joseph Sedlar, Jr. explained there’s a river that separates the Fransche Road property from the airport. The cost of installing a tube in the river was too high.

During the public hearing, Pastor Jose Rodriguez of New Wine Gospel Church asked if the property was zoned for an industrial park. Sedlar explained the property has not been sought for an industrial park, but for a medical marijuana growing facility.

Robert Lowe of Montrose asked, “What it is being sold for?”

Councilman Trent Vondrasek explained the village is not selling the property right now. The village council wanted public opinion on whether it should be sold. “Whether it be for an industrial park or a petting zoo,” he said.

In later public comment several residents talked about medical marijuana.

Pastor Walter Yeomans, of Chesaning Bible Baptist Church, said, “I’m not against you, I’m for you. I’d like to educate you on medical marijuana.” He went on to describe the impact of marijuana on the adolescent brain. He talked about a particular individual who had a seizure that Yeomans believes was caused by the use of marijuana. The individual kept smoking marijuana and eventually lost his job.

Sue Dilts said, “We have personally been touched by someone starting out with marijuana. There will be children [affected]. Guaranteed there will be break-ins. If it goes in, who will move here? Lives are being destroyed. It’s simply wrong. It’s been a detriment. Brain cells are gone. The bottom line is, if we open up to that, what will be next, heroine?”

Sedlar asked the audience, “Where have you been these last several months? It’s been in the paper. Now we’re at a point where if we say ‘no’, after we already said ‘yes’, can you imagine the lawsuit?”

Village administrator Troy Feltman said it’s been in the newsletter sent out with the water bills.

Resident Bryan Lone argued that millennials don’t relate to stuff that’s not online.

Sedlar said the information is online. It’s in the newspaper, which is online; and once the minutes are approved by the council, they’re posted online.

Pastor Tim Woycik addressed the council saying, “You’re telling us it’s too late. I’m here because there’s been an error in judgement in allowing this type of facility into the community. Maybe we are late to the game. What can we do so this goes no further? We are opening a door to Pandora’s Box. Look for an opportunity to go in another direction.”

Michael Molesko, who identified himself as a professor, pharmacist and holistic healer, said, “What I’m hearing is a lack of knowledge. It’s a plant. Alcohol is a drug. Marijuana is proved to be non-habit forming.” He went on to explain the plant is natural; whereas pharmaceutical drugs are not.

Councilman Matthew Hoover said, “It’s always been in our area. You could get pot easier than beer. That’s the way it’s been.”

Nikki Rodriguez said, “If you’re hurt on the job and you’re on marijuana, you get escorted out. I don’t want my property to go for medical marijuana.”

Vondrasek addressed the audience, “We understand your concerns. This was not taken lightly. So, as you are here [now], there were business owners. They were here and gave their support. Your concerns are heard. As a parent, it’s my job to make sure my kid [doesn’t do drugs]. It’s all our job. The job of the community, whether it’s here or not is to raise kids [who know right from wrong].”

Feltman explained people have already made multi-million-dollar investments in medical marijuana for operations in Chesaning.

Sedlar asked the audience, “How did the people who supported it find out about it? They knew about it. They read their water bills.”

Chesaning Township Planning Commission representative Tom Tithof asked, “Has this council adopted an ordinance allowing it? Has anyone submitted a site plan?”

Feltman responded, “The ordinance has been adopted. We received five applications for dispensaries.”

Tithof said, “So in essence, you haven’t issued any permits. There’s been no special use permit approved, no site plan application? Then it’s not too late.”

Tithof said, “The township has approved nothing. I’m part of the township planning commission. We’ve talked about this for four years. I am disappointed in the village planning commission for adopting it in three months’ time.”

Colleen Harrison asked about the recent sale of a piece of property on Peet Road. She wondered if a medical marijuana growing operation was automatically allowed because it’s zoned agricultural.

Feltman said it would still have to come in for a site plan review. He explained when there is a business that could impact adjacent property owners, the neighbors would have to be notified.

“We have to publish it in the newspaper and notify people within 300 feet” he said. “All the medical marijuana facilities require a special use permit.”

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