Commission eyes zoning for medical marijuana operations

By David Fleet
Atlas Twp.-At 7 p.m., Feb. 17, the township planning commission will host a virtual public hearing to consider language amendments to the Atlas Township Medical Marijuana caregivers zoning amendment. The purpose of the public hearing is to provide opportunity for public comment on a proposed amendment to the Atlas Township Zoning Ordinance that would define and regulate Medical Marijuana primary caregiver operations.
At issue is determination of where in the township will medical marijuana be grown. Township officials say they started to receive complaints, such as odors of flowering growing plants with caregiver operations in some neighborhoods.
David Lattie, township attorney said the growing of medical marijuana can have a big impact on neighborhoods.
“Right now the township is considering allowing growing operations in areas zoned for industrial use,” said Lattie. “If the growing is inside or outside it makes a big difference in a neighborhood. The impact on the surrounding property is at issue.’

Last year, the Michigan Supreme Court upheld a local zoning ordinance that regulated caregiver growing operations. Now, Atlas along with other townships are using the April 2020 high court ruling in DeRuiter vs.Township of Byron that municipalities can now regulate zoning for medical marijuana grow facilities.
In a unanimous decision, the high court voted to allow for “reasonable zoning” for caregiver growing. Caregivers will now also need permission and require a permit from municipalities prior to starting an operation.
However, the permit requirement does not effectively prohibit the medical marijuana use, said the court. Michigan is just one of 12 states that have legalized marijuana.
Prior to a recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling, lower courts ruled its hands off for municipalities, it’s voter approved, there’s nothing you can do about it regarding the growing of medical marijuana.
In December 2020, the board of trustees voted 5-0 to adopt a medical marijuana caregiver permit ordinance to require medical caregivers to obtain a permit to operate and to provide penalties for a violation. An application fee of $250 was also approved.
Anyone unable to attend the hearing can call or send their comments to the Atlas Township Clerk, PO Box 277, Goodrich, MI. 48438. Phone (810) 636-2548 FAX (810) 636-6244

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