First in Monroe Co. to address state law on marijuana.
TEMPERANCE -- Bedford Township has amended its zoning laws to regulate medical marijuana use, becoming the first government entity in Monroe County to address the voter-approved state law.
The zoning ordinance, which was approved 7-0 last week by the township board, amended the "home occupations" section of the township's zoning law to comply with the voter-approved Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, allowing individual qualifying registered patients and registered care providers to possess and grow medical marijuana in their homes.
However, the zoning amendment forbids any marijuana activities that involve dispensaries, compassion clubs, growing facilities and cooperatives, nurseries, stores, manufacturing, or large-scale operations.
The zoning changes follow a six-month moratorium approved by the board in August on taking applications for growing facilities and dispensaries.
Township attorney Tom Graham said the amendment affirms zoning locations for medical marijuana uses permitted in the law.
"The purpose of this ordinance is that certain large-scale marijuana uses that have been applied for across the state of Michigan, and there have been inquiries made in this township, are not to be permitted," Mr. Graham told the board. "The basis for the uses are not allowed are that is because the state statue did not enable those uses and by not enabling the uses, we are taking the position they are not permitted in any districts within the townships."
The zoning modifications also restrict primary caregivers from changing the outside appearance or character of their homes to reflect the marijuana use.
The changes to the township zoning code were recommended for approval by the township Planning Commission in February. The amendment was also reviewed last month by the Monroe County Planning Commission, which took no action when it went before the board.
Robert Pevin, director of the county Planning Commission, said it is unusual for the board to make a recommendation in dealing with zoning proposals.
"It is not that they were opposed to what the township was doing. They just felt they didn't want to endorse it," he said. "By not taking action it is deemed approved."
Bedford Township was among the communities to address regulating growing facilities by using a moratorium to allow time to sort out zoning on the issue.
The city of Monroe, the village of Dundee, Mich., Frenchtown Township, and Monroe Charter Township have also enacted moratoriums.
An ordinance regulating medical marijuana was prepared in Berlin Charter Township and was reviewed by the township Planning Commission as well as the county Planning Commission.
The proposal would keep medical marijuana facilities out of residential areas and restrict it to commercial and industrial zoned areas.