06-20-19 Watervliet Township approves ordinance that allows medical marijuana facilities; Hartford m

GETTING THEIR DUCKS IN ROW… was the task last week for Duck Race “Duckmasters” to get the plastic ducks cleaned, renumbered and sorted for the exciting Duck Race scheduled as part of the Watervliet Independence Weekend Celebration, set for June 28-30. See the complete schedule and “Firecracker” contestants photos on Page 6.

Watervliet Township approves ordinance that allows medical marijuana facilities

By Annette Christie The Watervliet Township Board once and for all approved the final Medical Marihuana Facilities Ordinance at their Monday, June 17 meeting. The subject, which has been on the agenda for many months, makes it possible for medical marijuana facilities to make their home in Watervliet Charter Township. Applications will be available on August 1, 2019 and will be processed as a Special Land Use permit. The permit application will go to the Planning Commission, whereby they will hold a public hearing, and then provide their recommendation/denial to the Township Board for final action. Prior to the vote, Supervisor Dan Hutchins expressed his concern, “It is just amazing to me the lack of involvement, hearing very little from the community.” For the many meetings that have been held, all with public comments at least once, if not twice, and yet only a handful of people have spoken on the subject. Hutchins also expressed once again that there were a couple things he was not very happy with but that he will support it as written. Hutchins offered the board another opportunity to speak on the subject, and all remained silent. The ordinance passed unanimously. The ordinance providing regulations for the operations of medical marijuana facilities in the township, allows for not more than six growers, not more than three processors, not more than four provisioning centers, and no limit on the number of safety compliance facilities and secure transporters. A grow facility and a processor may co-locate at the same location. All growers and processors must be located within the industrial zoning district. All provisioning centers, safety compliance facilities, and secure transporters must be within the commercial zoning district. Provisioning Centers must be located a minimum of 100 feet from residential zoning or an actual current residence and must be located a minimum of 500 feet from a school, playground, park, licensed day care center, or a place of worship. While the board approved medical marijuana, they opted out of recreational marijuana, following the second reading of that ordinance. With the majority of voters in the State of Michigan being in favor of recreational marijuana becoming legal, it is up to the State of Michigan to now put the rules and regulations in place, regarding that subject. Based on the advice of their attorney, the township considered opting out of allowing recreational marijuana facilities in the township, at least for now. The Prohibition of Recreational Marihuana Establishments Ordinance came about following advice of the township’s attorney. Hutchins said, “There is just not enough information available yet with the rules still being discussed, and the laws are still being written.” The ordinance prohibits all recreational marijuana establishments within the township and identifies violations and penalties for those that do not abide by it. “Any person who disobeys, neglects or refuses to comply with any provision of this ordinance, or who causes, allows, or consents to any of the same shall be deemed to be responsible for the violation of this ordinance,” the ordinance states, adding, “A violation of this ordinance is a municipal civil infraction, for which the fines shall not be less than $100 nor more than $500 at the discretion of the Court.”

River signage support approved The board re-visited a request from the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission for the Paw Paw River Water Trail contribution. The Planning Commission has requested $500 from the Watervliet Township Board in the effort to install signage along the Paw Paw River Water Trail. This is a continuation of efforts to increase usage of the river by enhancing its appeal and to make it safer. Trustee Joe Stepich said the signage would be along the river noting mile markers, landmarks, launches, etc. It could be especially useful if a kayaker gets in trouble on the water and needs to get help to his or her location. The request is for 2019, however, it is unknown if there will be additional requests in the future. Other neighboring river communities are being asked to support the effort as well. The board approved the request following their discussion.

Hartford medical marijuana dispensary slated for Oct., following final approval

By Jon Bisnett Med+Leaf cleared the final hurdle of state licensing approval at the end of May paving the way for the first medical marijuana dispensary to be open in the City of Hartford this fall. It has been a journey for the family-based company that began with the licensing process almost immediately following the adoption of the city ordinance in November of 2017, which was and still is the only Tri-City governing body to adopt a medical marijuana facilities ordinance. The leased property, adjacent to the Family Dollar store, located at 309 W. Main Street will now be remodeled into a secure storefront to house the business. It has a target opening date of October 1 according to investor Doug Von Koenig. The City Commission had previously approved the Med+Leaf application in June of last year, giving the company a year to get state licensing. A 90-day extension was granted by the local commissioners in March when protracted state processing led only to an initial denial of the application. Med+Leaf restructured the ownership of its Limited Liability Corporation to satisfy the state rather than face a lengthy appeal process which resulted in the approval now in hand. The company had originally planned on locating at the former MacKinder Law Office at 11 West Main, but after a protracted round of debate on measuring methods within the city’s ordinance, it was ultimately deemed that that property was located too near a church to qualify. Alex Von Koenig will run day to day store operations when the store is up and running. City Police, Fire and Planning Commissio