By Jim Newell
Village of Lake Orion voters decisively passed an ordinance proposal on Nov. 3 that would allow and set up guidelines for marijuana facilities within village limits.
The ordinance passed with 1,122 (65.27 percent) supporting the proposal and 597 votes (34.73 percent) against.
The 65 percent support exceeds that of the November 2018 general election when 63 percent of village voters supported Proposal 18-1, a statewide proposal creating the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, legalizing the possession and use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 years or older.
The village council had received public comments both for and against having marijuana facilities in Lake Orion.
Councilmember Jerry Narsh said, “At the end of the day, it is legal in Michigan. It’s law. You have to respect the law.”
Narsh, Lake Orion’s former police chief and current chief of the Village of Holly Police Department, said he has to balance his perspective on the matter as a police chief with his role as a councilmember.
He added that he’s glad that residents got to weigh in and have a say on whether or not the village should have an ordinance regulating marijuana facilities in the village.
“I’m always comfortable when people have the ability to state their choice,” Narsh said. “I’m happy they weighed in. My personal opinion on the matter is really irrelevant. What really makes me happy is when people get to speak their voice. To me as a councilperson, that’s important.”
The Lake Orion Village Council had sought to create their own marijuana ordinance, even holding public hearings to gauge residents’ input, said village Manager Joe Young.
However, a group calling themselves Michigan Citizens for Safe Access submitted petitions with enough signatures to force the issue to be put on the ballot.
The village council announced during its Aug. 10, 2020 meeting that the village received the petitions on Nov. 27, 2019.
Now that the proposal has passed, the village will be forced to adopt the ordinance, as presented.
There could be two marijuana facilities in Lake Orion, but they would not be in the downtown.
The south end of the village, in the M-24 and Heights Road area, is one of the few areas that would qualify under the village’s zoning where developers could put a marijuana facility, Young said.
There are only a limited number of parcels where a facility could go. Seven are on the west side of M-24 at Heights Road and are in the name of “BZ Lake Orion” addresses of 16, 20, 24, 32 and 46 of Heights Road. Two others are at 486 and 494 S. Broadway St. (M-24, near Heights). One of the parcels is an MDOT parcel.
There are also two parcels where marijuana facilities could go along the east side of M-24: 471 S. Broadway (owned by TCF Bank) and 453 S. Broadway (Broadway Grill), according to an email from the village.
Each facility could have two permits: one for adult recreational use and one for medical use. The village would get $5,000 per permit per year in fees.
Marijuana facilities could not be located within 250 feet of a single-family residential home district or a multiple family residential zoned district; within 1,000 feet of a school; or within 1,500 feet of a church or park.
Anyone who operates a facility could only operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. No one could consume marijuana in public within the village boundaries, according to the proposed ordinance.
Under the ordinance, the village will be able to regulate the sale of marihuana, allow certain medical marihuana facilities and recreational marihuana establishments, provide for standards and procedures to permit and regulate such facilities, impose of permit application fees and penalties and impose conditions for the operation of facilities.