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CHEBOYGAN — The City of Cheboygan’s Planning Commission continues to work on a draft ordinance regarding medical marijuana facilities within city limits.

The planning commission has been working on this ordinance for several months, after the request was made by the Cheboygan City Council to draft the ordinance. Since that request was made, there have been several draft ordinances from other municipalities presented to the planning commission for their review and the planning commission has had several presentations regarding potential facilities to be placed in Cheboygan.

At the planning commission’s Nov. 18 meeting, the discussion regarding the ordinance, as well as the restrictions on the facilities continued. On Dec. 2, the planning commission also had a workshop on medical marijuana.

“We are in the process of drafting an ordinance for medical marijuana,” said Cheboygan City Manager Tom Eustice at the Nov. 26 City Council meeting when he alerted the council members to the workshop. “Eventually, the commission will recommend an ordinance to the city council.”

Eustice said there is some clean up work that needs to be done to the ordinance that had been presented to the planning commission for their review and approval. City Attorney Stephen Lindsay was at the workshop to help with the cleaning up of the language.

The focus of the workshop was to look at the draft ordinance, clean up the language, add to it, and come up with the restrictions regarding the facilities in the city.

As of the city council’s Nov. 26 meeting, Eustice said the draft ordinance the planning commission had was not extensive enough. The city wants to have an ordinance that is extensive, spelling out all of the rules and regulations regarding medical marijuana within city limits, including licensing fees.

According to the planning commission’s Oct. 21 meeting minutes, a representative from a team who was looking to bring a medical marijuana facility to Cheboygan was in attendance at the planning commission meeting. The representative stated there would be around 18-20 people employed at the facility, which would be only a retail establishment. This facility would be around 3,000-4,000 square feet in size.

The planning commission is looking at specific zoning districts within the City of Cheboygan, to determine where would be best to locate the medical marijuana facilities, as well as look at some of the specific regulations within the ordinance.

The current draft ordinance does have some barriers built into the language of the document. This language allows the planning commission and the city council to make decisions as to how far away the medical marijuana facilities can be from other establishments, such as churches and schools. The city also wants to be able to restrict how far the medical marijuana facilities can be located from each other.

According to the meeting minutes from the Nov. 18 planning commission meeting, Eustice stated the city council and planning commission had discussed setting a limit on the number of each type of facility, including grow operations and dispensaries. The draft ordinance being reviewed by the commission is vague and didn’t address the cap on numbers of facilities.

The planning commission members discussed the language, stating it should include all schools, not just public schools, when deciding how far away from the schools and churches, that are currently operating as a church, the marijuana facilities should be located.

Regardless of what type of medical marijuana facility it is and in which zoning district it is located, the planning commission will need to issue the facility a special use permit to operate. This means the planning commission could place restrictions on each use on a case by case basis.

At the November meeting, the planning commission made the decision to have the workshop in December with Lindsay, to look at a more comprehensive ordinance.

The city council had heard a presentation on marijuana facilities from RedBud Roots in October regarding medical marijuana distribution facilities and what they could do for the community. The city made the decision to opt out of recreational marijuana facilities at this time, until the State of Michigan can further clarify the rules and regulations regarding the recreational side of the marijuana businesses. The city has opted into allowing the medical facilities within city limits, but will revisit the recreational aspect after the beginning of the new year.

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