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Thread: Leoni Township Planning Commission discusses medical marijuana moratorium, locations

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    Leoni Township Planning Commission discusses medical marijuana moratorium, locations

    Leoni Township Planning Commission discusses medical marijuana moratorium, locations for future businesses |

    Leoni Township Planning Commission discusses medical marijuana moratorium, locations for future businesses

    By Lisa Satayut|
    on February 06, 2013 at 9:18 PM, updated February 07, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    J. Scott Park | The S.G. Health and Wellness Center is located on Fifth Street in Michigan Center on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 5, 2013. The Leoni Township Planning Commission is considering what to do about medical marijuana dispensaries in the township. The center is in the same building as the Sweet Greens Hydroponics and Garden Store, but the two businesses have separate entrances.(J. Scott Park |

    LEONI TWP., – A public hearing at the Wednesday, Feb. 6 Leoni Township Planning Commission meeting to listen to resident concerns about medical marijuana businesses in the township brought out mostly supporters.
    The commission met Wednesday to hear from residents regarding the one-year medical marijuana moratorium that is set to expire in May. The meeting was strictly to hear from the public and was a “starting point” for a future ordinance.
    The commission plans to discuss the issue further at its next meeting on March 6.
    Two residents who have spoken in the past against the businesses were in attendance but just one spoke during public comment. About 15 others, who support medical marijuana businesses, were at the meeting offering suggestions to commission members.
    “Tonight we heard mostly from those who are advocates, what might the school folks have to say about this? I think we need to hear from others,” planning commission member Paul Overeiner said.
    Chairman Doug Sink agreed.
    The commission as a whole is not looking to ban these types of businesses, but rather it wants to regulate where they can set up shop.
    “Our job is to establish zoning and reasonable guidelines, we are not here to discuss the legality of it,” Sink said.
    He said the township should treat medical marijuana businesses the same as bars or establishments that serve alcohol. His main concern is to keep the businesses a certain distance from schools, out of residential areas and possibly a certain distance away from churches.
    Currently there are three businesses in the township and two are in close proximity to an elementary school.
    The issue of keeping them out of residential districts also garnered a lot of discussion.
    “It’s a legitimate business, but I strongly oppose them in residential districts,” Sink said.
    All of the planning members agreed.
    During public comment Todd Pickett, the owner of Sweet Greens and S.G. Health and Wellness Center on Fifth Street told the planning commission that he agrees with keeping the businesses a certain distance away from schools and residential areas.
    Pickett was elected to the Leoni Township Board of Trustees in November.
    His business was established before the moratorium was issued and he told planning members that the moratorium is most likely the result of him speaking with the township supervisor regarding the other businesses opening in the township.
    “Before it was put into place I came here and brought it to the attention of the township. We are professionals and we could see places opening up that were giving us a bad eye," he said. "After that the township board issued the moratorium.”
    Roger Maufort, director of the Jackson Compassion Club and a Leoni Township resident, told planning members that he also agrees medical marijuana businesses should be located a certain distance away from schools, but not churches.
    “There is not one religion that doesn’t have a history of using marijuana or cannabis," he said.
    Thomas Lavigne, an attorney with Cannabis Counsel, addressed the board and said it was “refreshing” to talk to a “level-headed” board.
    “I think a retail or commercial location is the best way to go,” he said.
    The suggestion of limiting the number of business within a certain proximity of each other didn’t sit too well with him.
    “I have no issue with keeping them away from the school but I would discourage the issue of how many can be set up next to each other.”
    Leoni Township resident Peggy Bobzien has spoken in the past on the issue. Her main issues were the number of the businesses in the township and how they present themselves with store façade.
    “One of my issues is how they present themselves, “ she said of store signage. She did say that Pickett’s business was “professional.”
    Another suggestion during public comment was to charge a high fee for new businesses that want to open.
    At the end of the meeting Sink said the commission will look into a license fee, the distance from schools and possibly churches.
    “This is a starting point, we’ve got some good ideas from you folks,” Sink said.

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