Leighton plans to revise medical marijuana ordinance

Fearing its local medical marijuana ordinance is out of date, the Leighton Township Board agreed to seek more information in light of new state laws.

The board Thursday evening was supposed to hear a presentation from Anthony Neely, but he was a no-show for the second straight month. Instead, board members talked about the issue after reviewing information received from attorney Cliff Bloom, who recommended the local ordinance be modified.

State law changed about a year ago when the State Legislature passed a bill that allows local municipalities to decide whether medical marijuana dispensaries, processing and distribution facilities will be permitted within their borders. The state law passed by voters in 2008 permits individuals to grow, sell and provide marijuana to qualified patients under strict conditions. However, monitoring the compliance is very difficult.

Leighton has received inquiries about setting up shops within the township, but it would have to adopt a local medical marijuana ordinance to permit it.

“It’s my understanding that our local ordinance is null and void because of the state laws,” said Clerk Mary Lou Nieuwenhuis.

Supervisor Steve Deer said the situation is not that dire, but he agreed with recommendations to examine the current ordinance and consider revisions.

Watson Township is beginning to take steps toward adopting a new ordinance permitting medical marijuana facilities and a joint meeting between the Township Board and Planning Commission is slated for next month.

In other business at Thursday night’s meeting, the Township Board:

• Was told by Fire Chief Tony Banas that he is not sold yet on the new 800 mhz radios and pagers now being used county-wide.

“As of now, I’m a little disappointed,” he said. “Speaking personally, I think it’s a step back.”

Banas also reported he recently earned certification for Fire Inspector II after passing a course.

• Agreed to make the top road priority for 2018 the engineering for reconstruction and eventually paving of 1.4 miles of 144th Avenue east of Kalamazoo Avenue. Paving cost has been estimated at $250,000.

• Was told by Deer that the number of building permits for the year to date has been 45 at a total value of almost $12.5 million.

• Agreed to have Deer ask the Allegan County Road Commission to permit use of golf carts and off-road vehicles on 145th Avenue on the south side of Green Lake. A two-year trial for nearby roads with 25 mph speed limits has proven to be successful.

• Approved the appointments of Scott Chestnut and Harry DeHaan to the Planning Commission and Dave Gould and Jonathan Roodvoets to the Zoning Board of Appeals, with Steve Shoemaker as an alternate. All are for three-year terms.



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