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April 21, 2019 4:11 am

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Saugatuck City Council Wants To Further Study Whether It's Appropriate To Allow Medical Marijuana Facilities In Town; Planning Commission Says Opt Out

On the subject of medical marijuana facilities and Monday’s agenda proposing a resolution to “opt-out” of allowing them in the city altogether—an action the existing state of Michigan law allows—Saugatuck City Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Spangler, said, “I’d like to take time to study this; this was just dropped in our laps without having any discussion (among council members).”

Other colleagues echoed this sentiment and the council moved to indefinitely postpone the Planning-Commission recommended proposal and hold future workshop discussions.

Spangler and Saugatuck Mayor Ken Trester also expressed agreement with local resident Todd Hoskins, founder of Canopy Gap, a consulting firm specializing in corporate restructuring, that any future legislation ought to support inclusivity.

“I am not a big advocate of medical marijuana, I am an advocate of openness in the community,” Hoskins told council during public comments.
Hoskins supports allowing it in the city on a case-by-case basis.

The vast majority of Saugatuck locals who have made public comments about it, including downtown business owners, deem medical marijuana facilities as not being a good fit for Saugatuck, city records show.

In either case, a final decision on the part of city officials at this time could be a moot point. According to Saugatuck Zoning Administrator Cindy Osman, if State of Michigan voters approve this November’s ballot initiative to legalize recreational use, any resident from any local municipality could initiate a petition (with a five-percent voter signature) to put the question before voters on a local ballot, whether or not to allow for marijuana recreational use in their respective city.

The surrounding municipalities are going about the issue differently.

Saugatuck Township officials reported that they have tabled medical marijuana until after the November election.

Meanwhile, Douglas city officials last week approved the first reading of its respective Planning Commission recommendation to opt-in.

However, Douglas city council, citing that it was not necessary to be so rigorous, made major changes, specifically eliminating the 500-foot setback restriction between a medical marijuana facility and residential zoning sites in favor of a 50-foot separation instead (See Story Below).

And among other changes, Douglas city council eliminated the separation setback requirement between facilities themselves.

The fact that federal law prescribes a 1,000-foot, drug-free zone around schools thus resulting in cities not allowing for these operations within that area, would itself rule out most of the geographical area of Saugatuck, Osman told the council.

Most model ordinances throughout the state focus on two things: zoning and solid local enforcement powers, said Osman.

Saugatuck Planning Commission Member Dan Fox pointed out that he and his colleagues studied, held extensive discussions, and hosted two public hearings on the issue.

Still, Spangler and others noted it was important for the council itself to review the matter.

The Planning Commission unanimously voted on June 21 to recommend to council the opt-out resolution.

Saugatuck City Council Wants To Further Study Whether It’s Appropriate To Allow Medical Marijuana Facilities In Town; Planning Commission Says Opt Out

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