Shelby halts new permits for residential structural modifications for marijuana

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published August 10, 2020

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Shelby Township Board of Trustees unanimously decided to halt the issuing of permits for residential structure modifications to facilitate the cultivation of marijuana at its July 21 board meeting.

The moratorium specifically temporarily stops “the issuance of any and all permits, approvals, certificates as they relate to any modifications to residential structures or units in any residential or commercial zoning district in order to cultivate marijuana as a patient caregiver.”

Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis said this change will help to prevent grow operations from buying properties and overrunning the township with grow facilities.

“This resolution and moratorium begin to give our township the tools it needs to make sure our neighborhoods are not overrun with commercial marijuana grow operations masquerading as personal caregivers,” Stathakis stated in a press release.

“No longer can individuals purchase properties in our township and make drastic, dangerous changes to the property to cultivate excessive amounts of marijuana. This resolution keeps our homes and families safer, and makes it even more difficult for these large industrial grow houses to set up shop in our township,” he stated.

According to the township, the moratorium and resolution follow a Michigan Supreme Court decision in the case of DeRuiter v. Byron Township, which said that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act does not prevent local municipalities from regulating land use via the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act as long as municipalities do not prohibit or penalize the cultivation of medical marijuana and they do not impose unreasonable regulations.

Referring to the Byron Township case, the Supreme Court said, “The township’s ordinance allowed for the medical use of marijuana by a registered primary caregiver but placed limitations on where the caregiver could cultivate marijuana within the township. The ordinance’s geographical restriction added to and complemented the limitations imposed by the MMMA; it did not directly conflict with the MMMA.”

Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis and trustees John Vermeulen and Lisa Casali brought forth the resolution for the moratorium.

Exempt from the moratorium are permit applicants who submitted their paperwork before the board’s vote.

During the meeting, Vermeulen said that there have been a number of complaints reported to the township by residents, so the township is working to resolve the issue.

“This moratorium is being initiated because we have had a number of complaints such as illegal electrical hookups, which are a danger to neighboring properties and people,” Vermeulen stated in the press release. “We’ve even had reports of people with guns going around these types of grow operations. That is a violation of the law, as you cannot carry firearms around these types of marijuana operations.”

Along with Stathakis, Vermeulen and Casali, Township Attorney Rob Huth, Building Director Tim Wood, and Planning Director Julie Misich worked with the Shelby Township Police Department to draft the moratorium. They are working on an ordinance to regulate the activities within the township’s zoning ordinances.

Wood said the township is working to find the best way to prevent any dangers to the community.

“We are actively gathering information and working on an ordinance with the police department, township attorney and planning department, and we are very hopeful to present something to the Board very soon,” Wood stated in the press release.

Stathakis said this has been an issue for many years.

“This has been one of the most frustrating issues we’ve had to deal with since I was elected supervisor,” Stathakis said. “I appreciate trustees John Vermeulen and Lisa Casali for working with me and our department heads for this resolution to help our township and our residential neighborhoods.”

For more information on the halting of the permits, call the township at (586) 731-5100.

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