2018-02-11 / News

Village council approves new grow facility then places moratorium on other new medical marijuana facilities

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

VILLAGE OF CHESANING – On Tuesday, Feb. 6, the Chesaning Village Council voted unanimously to place a moratorium on new medical marijuana facilities in the village.

Earlier in the meeting, the council considered two proposals for new medical marijuana facilities.

Nicholas Weisenberger and Jason Steele want to establish a medical marijuana grow operation under the name of Country Boy Farms, LLC. The proposed operation would be a 1,500 plant facility located at 1117 N. Main, just south of the village wastewater treatment plant.

During the presentation, Weisenberger said, “We look to have a positive impact in the community, prove there is good [in medical marijuana].” He assured them it would have security.

Councilman Trent Vondrasek asked about their previous experience.

Weisenberger said he runs a construction business and he farms locally. Steele said, “I’ve been a registered caregiver since 2011.”

Councilman Mathew Hoover motioned to approve the Country Boy Farms facility license. The roll-call vote was five yes votes to two no votes; the medical marijuana facilities license was approved.

Councilman Michael Cicalo asked the board, “How many of these grow facilities are we going to allow?”

The next medical marijuana facility request was a zoning change for Scott Rais who owns The River building (formerly Dollar Daze) at 101 N. Front St. He asked the council to consider allowing him to put a medical marijuana processing facility inside the same building with the Chesaning Elite provisioning center. The building is currently zoned B-1, it needs to be zoned B-2 for a medical marijuana processing facility.

Greg XX said, “We’re asking for a next door processing facility. We’re looking to take advantage of a new state law adopted after [the village adopted its medical marijuana facilities ordinance].” He explained that it makes sense to co-locate these facilities. “It’s as natural as having a bakery or a deli inside a grocery store. We’re not asking for open season. We’re asking that we be able to take advantage of this new rule,” XX said.

By allowing both businesses in the same building, they wouldn’t have to use secure transport to transfer the processed goods to the provisioning centers, but would still have the necessary accountability required by the state.

Rais explained to the council that the processing facility would make edibles [with marijuana]. He added that they would be able to make products with more accurate doses for patients.

XX explained that the product would not be smoked. “They don’t make candies,” he said.

Furthermore, the product would not be used onsite.

Councilman Michael Cicalo expressed concern about how the state keeps changing the law. He wants to see the finished law first.

Sedlar said, “[The law] is going to keep morphing. At this point, we’re just dealing with medical marijuana.”

Councilman Keith Wenzel said, “I’m not on board with changing the zoning just for you, when three-fifths of the building is going to be dedicated to medical marijuana. I understand the state is fluid. I want you to succeed as a business. But I’m just not comfortable changing the zones.”

Rais said, “When it’s done on site, patients get the experience of watching their meds being made. I’m not here to hurt anyone. I’m doing everything I’ve said, hired local contractors, interviewing people [for jobs]. I have a lot to lose here [if the license isn’t renewed]. This is about safe, clean meds.”

Councilman Phil Larner asked Rais about the status of other new businesses opening inside the building. Rais said the other suites are still open. He had a prospective wireless phone service, but they didn’t have enough signal in Chesaning.

Cicalo moved that the council not approve the rezoning request. The motion failed in a three to four vote.

But then Hoover made a motion to approve the text change in the ordinance as recommended by the planning commission. That motion also failed in a three to four vote.

Vondrasek said, “I think we, as a council, need to step back, take a breath and have a moratorium on [medical marijuana] permits [based on] the way we just voted tonight.”

Village administrator Troy Feltman requested clarification on the moratorium so he could draft the necessary resolution. He informed the council that the resolution would have to wait until the Feb. 20 meeting to go into effect.

“We need to be very specific,” he said. Feltman also cautioned the council that groups that are already in the process of license application would have to be allowed to continue through the process. [But there’s no guarantee of approval.]

Hoover said, “My concern is someone comes in with a great plan for a secure transport business.”

Sedlar responded, “A moratorium is basically a stop for now.”

PEET PROPERTY

Feltman also told the council, “I need to know where you stand with the annexation [of the old Peet Packing Plant property].”

Sedlar said, “I would like to remove that one for now.”

Vondrasek agreed saying, “We’re not telling him (owner Beau Palmreuter) no, but [would need to have things cleaned up first].”

Sedlar responded, “I’m not going to support denying annexation. We can’t decide tonight.”

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