By Jim Newell
The Lake Orion Village Council will hold a public hearing on developing a proposed medical and recreational marijuana ordinance and the council and administrators want residents’ input.
The public hearing is at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 10 during the council’s regular meeting. That meeting will be in-person in council chambers at Village Hall, 21 E. Church St., if allowable under the governor’s executive orders.
During the first public hearing on July 27, most comments were against allowing marijuana facilities in Lake Orion. Only one person attended the online meeting and spoke against allowing marijuana dispensaries, while a few others sent letters to the village, writing against allowing facilities.
“I would welcome as much input from our residents as possible,” said Councilmember Teresa Rutt, adding she wants to hear how residents feel “when it’s three blocks away”, and their concerns on how it will affect their property values.
Councilmember Ray Hammond said the council should focus on the “business” of marijuana and on the economic impact marijuana dispensaries would have on the village. Will it impact property values, and is it the kind of culture the village wants to present? he said.
“I just don’t think it behooves us, no offense to anyone, to walk into pain management,” Hammond said regarding the use of medical marijuana. “I think we need to stick to the business of marijuana as it relates to the village.”
“The ballot proposal was passed and I think it was 60 percent in the village favorable to go with adult use recreational marijuana,” village Manager Joe Young said. “Now, we need to move forward to put together an ordinance and we want to know what the residents feel about that and all the particulars of it.”
In the Nov. 6, 2018 general election, more than 55 percent of voters approved Michigan Proposal 1, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which allows for recreational marijuana use. Passage of the proposal legalized the possession and use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 years or older.
To join the village’s Zoom meeting, go to the village website, lakeorion.org, scroll down on the main page for instructions on accessing village meetings online. Meetings are also televised on orionontv.org.
To submit public comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or regular mail to Lake Orion Village Clerk, 21 E. Church St., Lake Orion, MI 48362 by July 27. Written comments will be accepted prior to the date and time of the meeting by the clerk.
After public input, the council and village administration will create an ordinance that would allow for whichever aspects of the industry that best fit the Lake Orion community, such as whether to allow or not allow retailers, provisioning centers, distributors, growers, processors, transporters, micro-businesses and designated consumption establishments.
“We would rather develop our own ordinance that would have the provisions that the community’s in support of,” Young said. “Instead of maybe having somebody submit a petition that would not factor in all the different aspects of having the facilities, or might have, in town.”
The village has heard interest from developers who want to include retail dispensaries in their development proposals.
“We had four different companies approach us and inquire,” Young said. “We haven’t received any formal applications, but there’s been an interest expressed on a number of possibilities in the village.”
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.
By being proactive, the village wants to ensure that it can limit the number and type of facilities, set up criteria for approved facilities, provide standards for permits and to regulate facilities and provide penalties.
“If we proceed with dispensaries or provisioning centers, then we would have selection criteria as part of it, too, which many communities have done,” Young said, adding that the village wouldn’t likely have four dispensaries.
“Whoever’s here, you want them to succeed financially. We don’t want to oversaturate the market. You don’t want to have them not make it and then have an empty building,” Young said.
While granting permits would not necessarily be a money-making endeavor, the village could charge up to $5,000 per year for each permit, Young said.
And it’s not necessarily marijuana facilities alone that would interest the village. “We would like to see the development that comes along with those facilities,” Young said. “And to clear up some of the areas that need improvement.”
At its Special Meeting of April 15, 2020, the Lake Orion Village Council adopted Resolution 2020-016 regarding medical and recreational marijuana.
The council will be, in the near future, passing ordinances that will allow for both medical and recreational marihuana, and possibly allowing for retailers, provisioning centers, distributors, growers, processors, secured transporters, and safety compliant facilities under the MMFLA and MRTMA, according to a public notice from the village.
Future ordinances would authorize within the village the potential for limited numbers of marihuana retailers, provisioning centers, distributors, growers, processors, transporters, micro-businesses and designated consumption establishment.
In addition, the village will in the ordinances provide for standards and procedures to permit and regulate such facilities; to provide for the imposition of permit application fees; to provide penalties; and to pose conditions for the operation of such facilities.
Under Michigan Proposal 1, individuals were permitted to grow up to 12 marijuana plants in their residences. The measure created an excise sales tax of 10 percent, which was to be levied on marijuana sales at retailers and microbusinesses.
Proposal 1 required that revenue from the tax be dedicated to local governments, K-12 education, and road and bridge maintenance. The ballot initiative also legalized the cultivation, processing, distribution, and sale of industrial hemp. Municipalities were authorized to ban or limit marijuana establishments within their boundaries.
The village’s Medical Marihuana Ordinance became effective December 23, 2015, and may be viewed on the village website, lakeorion.org.
The local ordinance restricts all primary caregiver operations to the CC Commercial Corridor Zoning District in a site with frontage on M-24. Registered primary caregivers must be located 1,000 feet from any other registered caregiver sites, and not more than one primary caregiver can inhabit any single parcel, according to the ordinance.