CHESANING — Village officials are pausing approval of new marijuana-related business developments — at least for the time being.
Citing the need to review and potentially update existing ordinances regulating the industry, the Chesaning Village Council voted unanimously Tuesday to place a moratorium on new marijuana license applications through Sept. 1.
Village President Matt Hoover said he’s in the process of assembling a team to review the village’s marijuana-related ordinances, with the goal of identifying shortcomings and making improvements.
“When we put these ordinances in place, we knew that somewhere down the line we would need to review it as it is a brand-new sector of the economy, and we would need to make sure we kept up and update it to protect our citizens and the community at large,” Hoover said. “It now is that time and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Council member Kim Hewitt suggested implementing a six-month moratorium in conjunction with Hoover’s marijuana review plan, allowing time for ordinance changes to be put in place. The motion was unanimously supported by council members.
The motion for a moratorium came after an hour-long public comment session Tuesday, with the majority of residents expressing displeasure at the prospect of continued industry expansion in the village, including a proposed rezoning request to accommodate a marijuana grow/processing operation at 10000 Peet Road.
Saginaw County Fair President Patricia Copes expressed concerns over potential odor emanating from the grow operation, which in turn could drive away patrons at the fairgrounds, located a half-mile to the west.
“Over the past 19 years, the fair has borrowed over $500,000 for the sewer system installation and for the building of the infrastructure here at the fairgrounds, therefore the fairgrounds needs all the opportunities for revenue sources because the fair alone does not pay our debt,” Copes said during Tuesday’s meeting. “Sadly if this rezoning happens and the odor is not controlled from this proposed facility, we may lose our ability to carry on this tradition … Our fear is if this project becomes reality and odor is not controlled, people will go to other fairgrounds and spend their money in other communities.”
The rezoning request, to convert the 16-acre property from R-1 Residential to M-1 Manufacturing, was tabled during the approval of Tuesday’s meeting agenda. It’s unknown how the moratorium will impact the development.
Saginaw resident Trevor Wisniewski, who owns the Peet Road property, reassured council odor would not be an issue. The plan at the site is to obtain a Class A growing license, which allows for the cultivation of up to 500 plants. Wisniewski said odor would only become prevalent during harvest times, and he expressed willingness to coordinate with the fairgrounds and other community groups to make an amicable harvest schedule.
“I currently operate an indoor and outdoor grow, both licensed by the state of Michigan,” Wisniewski said. “I’ve been licensed for two years and there have been no complaints.”
A proposed annexation of a property from Chesaning Township for marijuana use along Volkmer Road also remains incomplete.
In a text message following Tuesday’s meeting, village Administrator Troy Feltman said he believes both proposed developments could be exempt from the moratorium because discussions were in progress, though further clarity from the council will be needed in subsequent meetings.
Tuesday’s moratorium marks the village’s second marijuana licensing pause in four months. Village council members previously voted 6-1 Oct. 6, 2020, to place a moratorium on marijuana license applications until drainage and odor issues in the village were resolved.
The moratorium was lifted Nov. 3 via a 5-2 vote, and in December, the council voted 5-2 to approve marijuana facility licenses for grow operations at 9982 and 9726 W. Peet Road.
Hoover said he plans to meet with Feltman Friday to begin discussions on the ordinance review plan. More information on the process is expected at the next council meeting, 7:30 p.m. March 2.
“It’s going to be a lot of time and a lot of reading, so everybody get ready for homework,” Hoover told council members.