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Commission eyes marijuana, cell tower application

November 10, 2010 - Atlas Twp.-Those looking to set up shop for a medical marijuana dispensary in the township may just have to wait.

The township planning commission will meet at 7 p.m., Nov. 17 at 7386 Gale Road, Goodrich and hear a report on medical marijuana from township attorney David Lattie.

The township board of trustees passed a moratorium that put on hold land use for marijuana dispensaries earlier this year.

In November 2008, voters approved a citizen-initiated law known as the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act ("MMMA") was passed by 63 percent of Michigan voters. By doing so, Michigan became the thirteenth state to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

In Atlas Township, voters approved the law, with 2,654 yes to 1,920 no.

"I'm not going to solicit the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) or the American Medical Association (AMA), however, any of those groups are welcome to come in," said Rick Misek, planning commission chairman.

"So far no resident (that utilizes medical marijuana) has come to the planning commission. Right now we are unsure if any Atlas Township resident uses medical marijuana. It leaves us in a position to extend the moratorium to see what shakes out in Lansing before we decide."

"We are always open to public comment. But right now we are going to let the act stand on its face," he said.

Misek is concerned that until lawmakers decide on medical marijuana, communities will create a patchwork of laws that cross municipal lines.

"Lawmakers are in a tough spot—changing that medical marijuana law is like taking democracy out of the hands of the people."

The planning commission will also review an application for a new cell tower proposed by AT&T to be erected near Burpee Road between Gale and Vassar roads. The 177-foot structure is to be built and owned by Indiana-based Fortune Wireless Corporation.

The commission will ask the company to build the tower on township property if possible.

Misek estimates the tower will glean about $20,000 per year for township coffers.

The township has in place a cell tower ordinance—it's been about 10 years since the last tower was built.

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