Ferndale Pauses on Marijuana Facility Applications while Reviewing State Law

m1-realty-topKramer_TOP_02Ferndale Pauses on j and d adMarijuana Facility Applications while Reviewing State Law

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Nov. 16, 2016)

Ferndale, MI –  Ferndale officials put a pause on accepting applications for medical marijuana facilities, but want it to be clear they don’t oppose them.  They just want to do things right.

Ferndale City Council voted Monday to suspend accepting applications until July 1, 2017, to give time respond to new legislation adopted by the State of Michigan.  The State will begin accepting licensee applications Dec. 1, 2017, but nothing precludes cities from allowing businesses to open sooner.

Previously Ferndale had set up special land use requirements as part of zoning that allowed HowesLocationfor medical marijuana facilities to house the sale of medical marijuana by licensed caregivers to their licensed patients.  Currently there is one operation at 1915 E. 9 Mile that operates by appointment only.  There are three others in various stages of construction. And one other applicant that submitted plans that did not meet planning commission requirements. That applicant withdrew their application with the intent of submitting new plans once parking issues were worked out.

Monday’s decision does not impact those applications currently in progress, but ensures that no more applications are accepted while the City Attorney, City Manager, officials and staff evaluate the new laws.oc115_leavesad

The current business and those in progress are obligated to operate under the regulations put forth in the special land use permits and zoning under which they applied, at least until Ferndale adopts any changes based on reviewing the state law.  According to officials, all three in progress have “completed substantial construction” and are on the way to opening as planned.

“We’re not trying to discourage people or put any roadblocks to people actually having a successful project,” said Mayor Dave Coulter.  “It has been frustrating that we haven’t had more successful projects.  But I don’t want to give the impression that this council is trying to deliberately delay or impose restrictions on these projects. We’re trying to do everything we can to bring some of these projects to fruition.  And this is another example of it.”

Under the new state laws, there will be five types of businesses allowed:  growing, transporting,garden16_barbara_gulley testing, processing and dispensing.  Municipalities have the option to allow none, all or any of those types of businesses in their communities.  As seen by the previous special land use provisions, the City of Ferndale has been interested in having medical marijuana businesses open, and discussions are happening about how to best proceed in light of the new laws.

Mayor Pro Tem Melanie Piana said that the new state laws are meant to sort out some of the challenges businesses and municipalities have faced in trying to figure out what kind of regulations work best.  She added that the Michigan Municipal League would be having a presentation on the new laws at their next conference that would be a good resource.

The pause is expected to help free up staff time as well “Justin [Lyons, City Planner] is literally getting two or three phone calls a day,” said City Manager April Lynch, “and we have nothing to give them.”MBREW draft one

At the Michigan Municipal League’s Mackinaw Conference, a city attorney from Livonia discussed how some communities are using zoning to prevent marijuana facility growth.  Though that is not the direction Ferndale is taking, his presentation sheds light on the new state laws and what communities may or may not do to address them:  http://oaklandcounty115.com/2016/10/10/mml7-livonia-chief-assistant-attorney-shares-insights-on-marijuana-regulation/.

For other marijuana related coverage, see http://oaklandcounty115.com/?s=marijuana.

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