By Rosemary K. Otzman
At its meeting July 10, Sumpter Township Planning Commission members voted unanimously to postpone the planned Aug. 14 public hearing to Sept. 11 on the proposed zoning overlay for medical marijuana provisionary centers.
The item was not on the meeting’s agenda, but Commissioner Matthew Oddy, who had not been at the June 12 meeting when the public hearing was set, wanted to discuss it.
He said he has a friend who is familiar with both the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor dispensary ordinances and he had questions about the Sumpter proposal.
Sumpter Police Detective John Toth, who has been enforcing the medical marijuana growers’ ordinance passed last fall, was present at the June planning meeting to explain the details of the new ordinance, along with Laura Kreps, planning consultant from Carlise / Wortman.
Det. Toth was not at the July 10 meeting.
Commissioner Oddy said he had received the proposed overlay zoning laid out for commercial zoned property for the dispensaries that was discussed at the June meeting.
Kreps said her original sentiment was to put the dispensaries in commercial districts, but there are not many commercial districts in Sumpter. What she wrote was what the police wanted.
She said the planning commission is working on the zoning ordinance part of the project. She said a second ordinance, the general law ordinance, will have five possible locations laid out for dispensaries, but only three sites will be chosen.
Kreps was informed the general law ordinance put together by the police department and township attorney Rob Young had had its first reading approved by the board at its July 8 meeting.
Kreps said she had not seen that ordinance and was not told it was in the process of approval. Township Deputy Clerk Esther Hurst gave her a copy of what the board had given first approval.
The two ordinances had been planned to move forward together.
Deputy Clerk Hurst said the plan is for the board to wait until the zoning ordinance is recommended for approval by the planning commission and sent on to the board, so the two ordinances can be approved together.
Oddy said measurements in ordinances are usually lot line to lot line and the zoning ordinance Kreps wrote for the planning commission says building to building.
Kreps said ordinances usually say lot line to lot line, but if they do that in Sumpter, “None of them would be able to operate.”
She said the ordinance does not have the intention to exclude.
“You’re benefitting certain individuals and excluding others,” said Commissioner Jim Clark.
Ordinances in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti were referred to and Kreps said those two cities have large commercial areas.
Commissioner Clark said the areas laid out for dispensaries will be affecting other people in those neighborhoods.
That part of the ordinances was being handled by the board, she said, noting, “I did not work on the general law ordinance.”
Clark said the Sumpter ordinance should not be less restrictive than Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor and, “Other people are trying to make this fit for existing operations.”
Commissioner Joy Cichewicz asked if any other ordinances are not lot line to lot line and Kreps replied, “Not any that I saw.”
“Looks like it should be rewritten,” said Clark.
“I sent this to the police department and got no response. It’s been two months,” Kreps said.
“I don’t want to come next month and be on the hook,” Kreps said, referring to the public hearing.
She referred to the belief that a large crowd of people will be at the public hearing on the proposed zoning ordinance, including people who are growing medical marijuana now, their customers and supporters, and people opposed.
Oddy said all the commercial properties named have residences above businesses.
Clark said the commission shouldn’t hold a public hearing unless the ordinance is the way they want it.
“If you’re not comfortable with the language, you shouldn’t have a public hearing,” Kreps agreed.
She said she has been waiting six weeks for feedback from the police department and attorney.
Commission chairwoman Jane Stalmack said she was not comfortable with the proposed ordinance.
Kreps said she could rewrite it to specify commercial property and change the measurements from lot line to lot line.
Commissioner Sharon Claxton said all the commercial property Sumpter has in the township is in the five places specified in the proposed ordinance.
“Stick with commercial and redo the map,” Clark said. “I don’t like the idea of favoring individuals.
Oddy said the master plan could be changed to make more commercial zoning.
Kreps said if they wanted to keep their public hearing for Aug. 14, she could make the changes the commission wants before the public hearing.
She said she could tell the attorney the proposed ordinance is now different from what the police wanted.
“I would hate to come next month and have a lot of angry people here,” she said.
Oddy pointed out the proposed zoning ordinance says the dispensary needs to be 500 feet from a school and the general law ordinance being accepted by the board says 1,000 feet.
That discrepancy was what did it for Oddy. He made a motion to postpone the Aug. 14 public hearing until Sept. 11 because of a lack of clarity and conflicting definitions between the general law and zoning ordinances.
Township Trustee Alan Bates, who is a member of the planning commission, seconded the motion and the board passed it unanimously.
The Sept. 11 meeting will be held at the community center, since a large crowd is expected.
Public Hearing on
farm building set backs
The board did vote to meet at 7 p.m. Aug. 14 to hold a public hearing on the addition of language on Additional Regulations on farm structures and an addition of AG district to a chart on setbacks and sizes for Accessory Buildings in a residential district.
Kreps said in the recent redoing of the zoning book, “We missed one thing…” noting a less than 600 sq. ft. building in the AG area should be the same as RF.
She said the building department has been getting requests for buildings and this omission was discovered.
Absent from the July 10 meeting were Borden, Taylor and Pokerwinski.
By Rosemary K. Otzman