Planning Commission extends medical marijuana moratorium
The Tecumseh Planning Commission passed a resolution on Tuesday evening, Oct. 9, recommending that City Council extend a moratorium “upon the issuance of any and all permits, licenses and zoning approvals for the sale or dispensation of medical marijuana for an additional 180 days beyond the expiration of the current moratorium, or until an amendment of the Zoning Ordinance and other applicable codes is adopted, whichever comes first.”The current moratorium will expire on October 19. The Planning Commission first recommended a temporary moratorium on May 12, 2010, with the council approving it May 17, 2010. Five extensions have been approved since then. On July 19, 2012, the Planning Commission recommended that City Council approve a Prohibited Use Ordinance, but the council did not take action due to a decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals which challenged similar ordinances. The Michigan Supreme Court is expected to review the decision at a future date.Building Services Director Brad Raymond suggested that the moratorium be extended for another 180 days to allow sufficient time for the court appeal to be heard and to allow the city time to better prepare for an ordinance that is sustainable.Raymond presented the Planning Commission with the options open to them, including allowing the Moratorium to expire, which would prevent the city from taking any zoning enforcement actions in regards to medical marijuana in the city.The second option would be to consider adopting a draft ordinance, amending the ordinance to allow for growing operations in the I-1 and I-C districts. If this option were selected, the current moratorium would still have to be extended to allow for sufficient time to adopt the ordinance amendment, with a down side that the ordinance could still be challenged. If it were adopted and replaced with a more restrictive ordinance, then a business allowed under the ordinance would be grandfathered in.The final option, and the one the commission approved, was to extend the moratorium for another 180 days, however the Tecumseh City Council will now make the decision on whether to extend it.Discussion included questions by commissioners, such as Chairperson Bob Fox’s query as to whether the zoning would be inclusive of growing, dispensing and distributing. Raymond explained that the ordinance addresses the caregiver and growing operations, but does not address or prohibit growth for a patient’s personal use. Commissioner Craig Fulton asked Raymond if zoning were to be put in place as originally discussed, would it include grow operations only, or both grow operations and dispensaries. Raymond said the terminology “dispensary” is not recognized in the Medical Marijuana Act. The ordinance would refer to grow operations for caregivers to be able to facilitate for patients that are unable to grow for themselves.The recommendation to extend the moratorium passed with a 5-1 vote, with Fox voting no.