Martiny Township bans pot establishments

MARTINY TWP. — Due to concerns of litigation and costs from zoning enforcement, officials said, the Martiny Township Board of Trustees on April 16 voted to ban marijuana establishments from opening in the township.

Under the terms of the new ordinance, which was passed unanimously by the board, violations would be considered a civil infraction. Also included in the terms of ordinance are that a “secure transporter licensed to operate in another municipality” may take pot through the village.

“Our biggest obstacle is the zoning question. In Martiny Township, we use the county zoning office to handle our zoning issues, and the county does not have a provision for this type of thing. But the way the law was written, commercial establishments can be controlled by zoning in townships and cities — not by counties,” said Martiny Township Supervisor Barbara Hampel. “For us to ‘opt in,’ we would have to do some major research, maybe establish our own zoning board, I don’t even know. But I’m not sure it’d be worth it.”

Several municipalities in Mecosta County, including Morley, Green Township and Morton Township, have enacted marijuana bans since the November 2018 passage of Proposal 1, which legalized pot for recreational purposes statewide.

Under the terms of Proposal 1, local municipalities may “opt out” of allowing commercial marijuana sales within their boundaries by passing ordinances or taking up a ballot measure. The rules differ from the medical marijuana industry, in which governments were forced to “opt in” if they wished to allow facilities to move in.

It will take one year before commercial pot facilities come to any cities or towns in Michigan. Those who do allow them in will get a cut of sales tax receipts.

Hampel said there have been “a couple of calls” from people who have expressed interest in opening marijuana facilities in Martiny Township, but they did not advance very far in the process of starting a business before the ban was enacted.

Hampel said the township’s ban on marijuana facilities should not be considered a moral judgment of pot users, rather, it’s more about establishing financial priorities.

“It would be very costly for the township to establish zoning. Yes, it would be done, I’m sure, but citizens are going to have to realize we’ll take money away from something else, like our fire department, or our roads,” Hampel said.

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Posted by Tim Rath

Tim is the Pioneer's associate editor. He also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Veterans pages. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at trath@pioneergroup.com.

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