Moratorium placed on marijuana permits

Sidewalk ramp contract approved, awarded

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published September 4, 2020

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Macomb Township has established a moratorium on future planning for facilities in regard to cultivating marijuana.

At the Aug. 26 Board of Trustees meeting, Tom Esordi, general counsel and human resources director, provided background information on the moratorium, calling it a “very important” topic to the township.

The moratorium freezes the issuing of permits for residential structure modifications associated with caregiver cultivation of marijuana.

In 2008, Michigan voters approved a ballot initiative that legalized medical marijuana and Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act.

Esordi said the act allows for patients and their caregivers to cultivate medical marijuana within an enclosed, locked facility in order for individuals to be entitled to protections under the act.

He added that the township has adopted and enforced the state building code at the local level and has gone through the permit process associated with medical marijuana facilities.

“Unfortunately, the township has experienced numerous problems relative to these grow operations,” Esordi said. “It ranges from all types of improper electrical supply, ventilation issues that include numerous air handling and air conditioning units, many times placed in the wrong location, all designed for the cultivation of marijuana, not designed to be placed in a residential area.”

In one case, Esordi said it rose to the level requiring the township to file for an injunction in the Macomb County Circuit Court, stopping this type of activity.

He mentioned that the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act allows the township to regulate land usage through its zoning ordinance.

“I’m sure anyone in the building department, and my office and the supervisor’s office can attest to the numerous phone calls we receive every day about requests to cultivate medical marijuana in a residential district and from residents complaining about neighbors who are cultivating under the medical marijuana law,” Esordi said.

The board unanimously approved a resolution establishing a moratorium, or temporary prohibition, on issuing permits, approvals, certificates as they relate to any modifications to structures in any residential or commercial zoning district in order to cultivate marijuana as a patient caregiver.

Esordi explained that the moratorium is a legal process that allows the township to deny any facilities for a period of time until it is able to develop an appropriate ordinance.

Macomb Township Supervisor Janet Dunn asked if there is a set time limit for the moratorium, to which Esordi said is 120 days.

A new ordinance regarding modification under the zoning enabling act should be completed within that time.

“Unfortunately, the township was experiencing a substantial number of caregiver grow operations, which were not only interfering with the electric supply to neighborhoods, but disrupting the peace and enjoyment associated with residential living within our township,” Dunn said.

Currently, a permit process allows the township to inspect for construction work like electrical and mechanical.  

Sidewalk ramp program grant
Also at the meeting, from the facilities and grounds department came a request for a community development block grant, or CDBG, sidewalk ramp program for around $190,000.

The contract was approved and awarded to Luigi Ferninandi & Sons Cement Co.

The project includes the removal and replacement of sidewalk ramps and curb and gutter at 23 intersections within two sections of the township.

The cost for this project will be shared between the township and the Macomb County CDBG.

The amount of CDBG funding available for this project is $105,579, leaving the township responsible for the remaining $84,377.

The township has until the end of the year to complete all construction and closeout the project.