2018-01-07 / Front Page

Council authorizes clerk to sign forms for medical marijuana facilities

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

CHESANING – During the Tuesday, Jan. 2 meeting, the Chesaning Village Council voted to authorize the village clerk, Tina Powell, to sign attestation forms for medical marijuana facilities. These forms allow medical marijuana facilities to operate while in the process of applying for a state license.

The council board packet explained that the State of Michigan Licensing And Regulatory Affairs (LARA) issued rules for the implementation of the Medical Marijuana Facilities Act. LARA allows medical marijuana facilities to operate while in the process of applying for the state license, if authorized by the local unit of government.

Later in the meeting, councilman Matthew Hoover reported that the planning commission recently approved the special use permit for a medical marijuana facility on North Main Street at Volkmer Road. He said the developer is proposing a 40,000 square-foot building.

“The major issue is the distance to the school [Zion Evangelical Lutheran School]. This is the first step,” Hoover said.

He explained there was a lot of discussion about requiring sidewalks. “I’m not sure why that came up,” he said.

Village president Joseph Sedlar, Jr. said, “I’d rather see a recreational path going down that road.”

Hoover said, “There were a couple of insinuations of corruption.”

Village administrator Troy Feltman said, “I try to make this as transparent as possible. The village has made this a three-step process.”

He explained the first applications were attached to existing buildings. The facility currently under consideration would be new construction. Feltman explained the three-step process for medical marijuana facilities. First, the applicant seeks a special use permit from the planning commission. If the special use permit is approved, the applicant goes to the village council to get the permit. If both are approved, they go through the site plan approval process with the planning commission.

“There will be two public hearings,” he said.

During public comment portion of the meeting, Jennifer Coon expressed concerns over the environmental impact of medical marijuana on elementary school children. She asked why the medical marijuana facilities would be located so close to schools. She believes the facility proposed at 700 N. Main St. is too close to Zion Evangelical Lutheran School.

Sedlar responded, “The state requires [medical marijuana facilities] be at least 1,000 feet away from any school. Security will be tight. It’s not stuff sold on the street. It’s transported securely.”

Coon said, “A lot of people move to the country to get away from factories and fumes.”

Sedlar responded, “We have done the research. These have to be re-licensed every year. [If they stink, they don’t get their permit renewed.] We have churches and schools all over town.”

James VanWagner said he lives about 200 feet from the facility proposed on North Main St.

Sedlar responded, “You’re a thousand feet minimum. [The facility would be built] close to the north side of the property,” Sedlar said.

Pastor Tim Woycik said, “I am speaking about protecting our children.

Why are we dealing with places so close to churches?”

Sedlar responded, “State law says [medical marijuana facilities] can’t be closer than 1,000 feet from a school. Churches are not included unless it has a school. Preschools don’t count.” Councilman Trent Vondrasek asked Pastor Woycik, “What is the United Methodist Church’s stance on medical marijuana?”

Woycik responded, “The church is questioning the validity of medical marijuana.” He went on to say that the medical marijuana applicants “want to have their foot in the door for when recreational marijuana is legalized.”

Coon interjected that the tobacco shops are doing the same thing.

Vondrasek explained to the audience, “We are not choosing these sites. I understand your point.”

Woycik said, “As a village, we are required to observe state law. But it could also be more [restrictive].”

Councilman Mike Cicalo said, “You keep saying ‘the State says.’ But federal law [doesn’t permit marijuana]. When I took the oath of office, I swore to uphold the Constitution.”

Councilman Keith Wenzel explained the federal government can’t do anything to oppose medical marijuana. It’s in the federal budget, placed there by President Obama.

“I looked it up. They can’t use federal money to [enforce it],” he said.

Chris Woycik said, “In the state of New York, 35,000 [medical marijuana] cards have been issued. In Michigan, it’s 218,000 cards. We’ve got a problem.”

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