The Northfield Township Board of Trustees talked deep into the night about changes to their draft marijuana ordinances, before sending it back to the Planning Commission.

Tuesday night’s meeting of the board ran into Wednesday as officials listened to residents, presentations from experts, and discussed zoning regulations around the possible establishment of marijuana establishments in the area. Supervisor Marlene Chockley explained that, in the end, they voted to extend the sunset clause on the ordinances to June 25th. This will send the ordinance back to the Planning Commission to set a new public hearing with the Board’s recommended changes.

Roughly 2 dozen residents spoke during public comment, split fairly evenly between those in favor of allowing establishments, and those against it. Many in favor cited reasons like increased revenue and honoring the “will of the voters” who voted in favor of legalization last November. Those opposed spoke of exposing their families to the drug and not wanting revenue from such a vice.

The Board then observed two 20-minute presentations, one for, and one against. Speaking against establishments was a special agent from the Drug Enforcement Agency. Presenting in favor were entrepreneurs from an Ann Arbor grow operation, who had a former director of the Licensing and Regulatory Agency speak in support.

Following that, they spent time at length dissecting the actual draft ordinances sent from the Planning Commission. The Board had a much more restrictive stance than the commission on nearly every bullet point. Recommendations going back to the Planning Commission include extending the spacing between facilities and schools from 500 feet to 1,000 feet. That distance was also recommended to apply to parks, child care facilities, and places of worship. They also voted in favor of dropping the number of licenses to 6 each from recreation and medical, from a combined 20. Microbusinesses would also not be permitted in agricultural zoning. An original motion in favor of opting out, failed by a 4-3 vote, before the sunset clause was extended.

While many of the votes the board held were 4-3 margins in one direction or the other, Trustee Wayne Dockett always voted in favor of marijuana, while Trustee Tawn Belliger consistently voted against it, citing that it is still illegal on the federal level. (MK)