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Twp. puts moratorium on med. marijuana uses



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July 21, 2010 - It's official – Oxford Township is going to create an ordinance to regulate the dispensing of medical marijuana.

Township officials last week voted 5-2 to direct the planning commission and its ordinance review subcommittee to do so for a cost not to exceed $2,500.

The money will be spent on attorney fees, planner fees and committee meetings.

However, until the township can get some ordinance language in place, officials also voted 4-3 to adopt a 120-day moratorium "on all applications for site plan review, certificates of occupancy and/or building permits, which concern the development of a medical marihuana facility."

The period of this moratorium – which affects only the unincorporated township, not the village – can be shortened or lengthened at the township board's discretion through a subsequent resolution.

Trustee Sue Bellairs' only objection was the spending of tax money on attorney and planner fees to create this ordinance. "I don't even see the need for that," she said. "There's so much footwork you can do yourself."

Trustee Mike Spisz originally proposed a $10,000 spending limit, but the rest of the board balked at that, so the ceiling was lowered to $2,500.

But that was still too much for Bellairs.

"Why can't the committee do this?" she said. "It's just paperwork. It's looking things up. It's research and then coming back. Why does it have to go through attorneys at this point? Why can't the committee do everything instead of handing it to the attorney and the planner to get that information?"

Those members of the public interested in providing input during the ordinance creation process were encouraged to attend the ordinance review subcommittee meetings.

These meeting take place at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the Oxford Veterans Memorial Civic Center (28 N. Washington St.). The next one is Aug. 19.

"That's where all the real conversation's at," Spisz said.

According to Tom Berger, the planning commissioner who chairs the subcommittee, a draft ordinance is currently being written and should be ready to present to the planning commission at its next available meeting. The subcommittee worked out the details at its meeting last week.

The draft ordinance calls for the limiting of dispensaries to C-1 (local commercial), C-2 (general commercial) and R-O (research-office) zoning districts.

Berger said there's proposed language that limits the township to one dispensary for every 5,000 residents; calls for them to be located at least 1,000 feet away from schools and childcare facilities; and limits hours of hours of operation to between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Dispensaries would also be required to obtain special use permits through the planning commission under the draft language.

Berger indicated that state-registered medical marijuana patients and their caregivers are also addressed in the draft language because both are legally allowed to cultivate plants. Although they are mentioned, the draft language does not intend for the township to regulate them. It simply reiterates that what they can and cannot do is already covered under state law.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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