Thursday, July 22, 2021

Marijuana proposal ‘flames out’ in Sumpter

After much discussion and comment from audience members, a meeting agenda item to opt in and allow medical and/or recreational marijuana facilities in Sumpter Township failed when none of the trustees made a formal motion on the question.

The item was placed on the agenda by Trustee Peggy Morgan who then failed to make a formal motion for approval after hearing comments from members of the public during the July 12 meeting of the board of trustees. The previous board of trustees voted against opting into allowing marijuana facilities three years ago and that status quo was praised by Richard Harrison, who spoke during the public comment portion of teh agenda. He told the trustees that he was concerned that the administrative expenses for allowing the facilities exceeded or matched any revenue the township might realize. He also expressed his concern about crime that might ensue at the facilities and the increased cost to the police department.

Also addressing the board of trustees was Eric Foster of Banks and Company, which he described as a public relations firm. He spoke at great length urging the board members to postpone any decision until his firm could offer administrative advice and counsel regarding the state regulations regarding the allocation of licenses and the legal jeopardy of local municipal regulations without research and legal advice.

He described his company as “a free resource to you” and cautioned the board members that they were “not in a place to make a decision. Take the time to do proper due diligence,” he urged the trustees.

Another resident also urged the board to research the issue and to find a professional urban planner to help plan the location of any such facility, if approved. “Find someone familiar with planning before handing out permission,” he said. 

A long-time resident told the board members that three years ago it was determined that the expense of the facilities overrode the profit and the board at that time denied opting into the businesses. “I am very much against this,” she said.

Later in the meeting, Morgan questioned township attorney Rob Young's billings for work done on researching current state, county and federal regulations regarding marijuana facilities.

Morgan repeatedly questioned the number of hours Young had billed in pursuing the legal regulations and consequences of allowing the facilities into the township.

“The supervisor requested that I look into and research this and provide him and the board with the current regulations,” Young said. “I didn't put this on the agenda, you did. This is not my motion or proposal,” he said. Young detailed the extensive research he had completed on the issue, again reminding Morgan that this was her motion.

Morgan continued to argue that approval of “opting in” to allowing marijuana facilities during the meeting would not allow the immediate application for permits or licenses in the township, a claim disputed by other members of the board.

When the agenda item was announced for consideration, there was no motion and no second, leaving the current township ordinances against marijuana facilities in place.