Leighton affirms Grimley Saw Mill project special use

The Leighton Township Board Thursday evening affirmed on a 4-1 vote a decision by the Planning Commission to approve a special use permit for the Grimley Saw Mill.

Neighbors of the project at 739 Stoney Ridge Court asked for a special meeting to appeal the commission’s approval, maintaining the maple syrup processing operation was disrupting a residential area with noise.

After a 35-minute hearing, the Township Board voted to allow the saw mill, with Treasurer Car Troost dissenting, if it adhered to strict regulations about when it could be open. The board insists that cutting cannot be done Sundays nor hours after dark.

Township Supervisor Steve Deer warned the owners that the permit could be revoked if there is evidence of non-compliance.

“People are going to be watching and it would be best if you comply with the rules,” he told them.

Clerk Mary Lou Nieuwenhuis promised that if violations are found there will be no hesitation in immediately issuing tickets.

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

• Fielded another request from Cory Cadieux of Hudsonville and business partner Dave Kooistra to develop a local ordinance permitting medical marijuana dispensaries within the township’s borders, in accordance with a state law signed a year ago by Gov. Rick Snyder and passed by the Satte Legislature.

Cory Cadieux

Cadieux said there are an estimated 216,000 medical marijuana patients in Michigan who have been served since the state-wide ballot proposal was approved by voters in 2008, but the law has produced a situation akin to “the wild, wild west.”

He suggested that, “People are growing in basements, selling on Craigslist and producing products without proper testing,” so dispensaries would provide much safer conditions for the distribution of a legal substance.

Cadieux has said he would like to build a facility of between 10,000 and 20,000 square feet and create between 10 and 25 jobs in the early going. He has no specific site in mind, but said he would want to locate in an area that would be appropriate for zoning. He said his business would sell only to qualified dispensaries, not individuals.

Cadieux said he and Kooista, have made presentations and requests to the Village of Middleville, Orangeville Township, the City of Wayland and Jamestown Township and Byron Township in Ottawa County. He said data from the 2008 election shows reasonable support in areas of Barry County and Allegan County, but Ottawa County, which had blue laws against alcohol for many years until recently, seems adamantly opposed. And that’s where he lives.

He has outlined plans to pay employees between $10 and $12 an hour and he estimates between $9 million and $14 million worth of business annually.

Supervisor Steve Deer told him, “We’re moving kind of slowly on this issue (of adopting a local ordinance to permit dispensaries or processing facilities).”

Cadieux replied, “I didn’t expect a fast train.”

Watson Township, however, meanwhile is considering development of such an ordinance for three businesses handling as many as 1,500 plants each.

  • Agreed with the Allegan County Road Commission not to allow off-road vehicles on 145th Avenue, where golf carts have been permitted for the past two years with no negative incidents reported.
  • Decided to move forward on plans for installation of an overhead street light for Serenity Ridge on Division Avenue if the homeowners’ association picks up the tab at an estimated $700 to $800.
  • Approved the hiring of Cody Williams as a firefighter for the Leighton Department, bringing it back up to full strength by succeeding a firefighter who left to set up a business in the Nunica area.
  • Was told by Deer that Leighton Township eight building permits approved in November at a value of $840,000. The township has seen approval of 53 permits for the year for $13.3 million.



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