BUSHNELL TOWNSHIP — Considered one of Montcalm County’s smallest townships is transferring ahead with permitting leisure marijuana gross sales, following a path blazed by three different native communities.
The Bushnell Township Board voted 5-0 in a particular assembly Thursday night to start drafting an ordinance to manage leisure marijuana dispensaries inside the township. Supervisor Chris Smith, Clerk Louise Belyou, Treasurer Karen Conklin Bliss and trustees Mike Fitzgerald and Pat Draper all voted “sure.”
The vote got here after a public listening to on the Sheridan Neighborhood Heart at which solely three individuals spoke (14 individuals have been current within the viewers).
Since Bushnell Township is an unzoned township, the ordinance could be a police powers-type regulation.
Township officers are hopeful of the income that marijuana gross sales may convey into the agricultural group. Bushnell Township on the southern border of Montcalm County has a inhabitants of 1,516 individuals and misplaced 5.5% of its inhabitants (88 individuals) lately, based on the 2020 census.
Michigan’s Proposal 1 marijuana initiative narrowly handed in Montcalm County in November 2018, however narrowly failed in Bushnell Township at the moment.
The village of Edmore was the primary Montcalm County group to permit leisure marijuana (in addition to medical), adopted by Crystal Township and most lately the town of Stanton. In the meantime, the town of Greenville has been engaged on medical marijuana solely and isn’t planning to pursue leisure marijuana right now.
Edmore’s normal fund anticipates $50,000 from marijuana tax income and $40,000 from municipal marijuana licenses for its upcoming fiscal yr.
“Clearly there’s some monetary achieve for the township,” Smith mentioned. “That can be utilized for roads, and in Bushnell Township the 2 largest issues we’ve got to funds for are roads — which we by no means come up with the money for for — and fireplace safety. We have now to provide you with alternate sources of income. Ought to we’ve got millages for roads and fireplace safety, or ought to we strive (marijuana) gross sales? It will simply cowl our fireplace safety if dispensaries come into our township.”
Smith mentioned a mean of $28,000 per yr is generated for Bushnell Township’s normal fund. Treasurer Karen Conklin Bliss famous that income sharing and property tax are at present the township’s solely sources of income.
“We undoubtedly want the income,” she mentioned.
Township residents Steve Cotter and Kevin Cotter each spoke throughout public remark in help of permitting marijuana develop operations within the township.
“If in case you have a small property, you possibly can most likely develop an out of doors develop in a way more economical manner than some place else,” Kevin Cotter mentioned. “This makes it conducive for many individuals, individuals who need to do that on the aspect. It’s a fairly labor intensive factor but it surely permits a decrease monetary price to get into and due to this fact individuals locally can do that with much less of a price barrier. These are extremely regulated services, they’re nicely supervised. I’d prefer to advocate for small develop operations that native individuals can afford to get into.”
Nevertheless, township officers had questions on odor complaints from develop operations and whether or not odor might be regulated. Smith mentioned he’s spoken with officers from the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Workplace and he mentioned the primary grievance they obtain relating to outside grows is the odor.
“There’s actually no approach to management odor,” Smith mentioned. “In some areas which may not be a problem in our township, however there’s a whole lot of areas the place it could possibly be. I don’t need to have to inform someone, sorry, your own home smells of marijuana.
“One other query is infrastructure — what kind of infrastructure will probably be wanted to help these grows?” he requested. “Bushnell Township may be very rural. We don’t have water or sewer — all the pieces’s drain fields, septic, stuff like that. All of our roads are rural and a whole lot of our roads are falling aside. What is going to elevated site visitors do?
“I can’t comfortably say I’d be comfy with outside grows or indoor grows right now,” he concluded. “It may convey jobs, it may convey financial reduction to the township. However I feel the actual query is what can we see 20, 30, 40 years down the highway? Can we see large warehouses scatted all around the townships? It’s onerous sufficient to maintain up with what we’ve got now, not to mention having to help a majority of these new industries. It will be simpler if we had water and sewer in place, however we don’t.”
Smith expressed curiosity in touring outside develop services and he additionally requested residents to level him towards outside develop ordinances so the problem might be revisited sooner or later.
Thursday’s public listening to started after the Bushnell Township Board first went into closed session for about quarter-hour with their legal professional, David Eberle of the Grand Rapids-based Bloom Sluggett legislation agency, to contemplate a written opinion relating to marijuana companies.
Throughout public remark, Dean Whitmore of Bushnell Township requested how a lot the township pays per hour for the legal professional, how a lot price has been incurred up to now within the matter of marijuana and the way a lot has been budgeted for future authorized bills. Smith solely responded that the Michigan Townships Affiliation advisable the township rent an legal professional and that the township employed Eberle final November. Smith mentioned the township’s funds assembly will happen in March and they’ll resolve on an legal professional funds then.
“With the local weather of the county and the environment relating to the entire different points which might be happening, it was advisable by the MTA that we retain authorized counsel,” Smith mentioned. “These guys are extremely advisable by a number of townships right here in Montcalm County. Proper now we’re simply budgeting based mostly on anticipated charges going ahead.”
The Bushnell Township Board, which generally meets each different month, will subsequent meet at 7 p.m. on March 8 on the township corridor, when they may start to plan their upcoming funds yr.
Whitmore requested the township board if they might think about using their share of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) cash to enhance native expertise and communication. The township doesn’t have a web-based presence in any respect, which means residents should search for assembly postings within the township corridor window and should request assembly minutes and ordinances individually as an alternative of with the ability to simply view them on-line.
“Our township is small and doesn’t have a whole lot of more money, I perceive that,” Whitmore mentioned. “Getting data to the residents could also be a little bit of a problem. Our township operationally, we’re working the way in which we have been 100 years in the past. I feel there’s lots of people that don’t know what’s taking place. Possibly then (with communication and expertise enhancements) there could be sufficient curiosity to generate a millage for fireplace safety.”