WATERVLIET — Township trustees unanimously approved a medical marijuana ordinance Monday evening, clearing the way for potential growers and sellers to set up operations in the township – after they complete the permitting process.

Monday marked the second reading of the ordinance, and the final procedural step in a complex process that began when the township voted last December to “opt in” and allow state-licensed medical-marijuana facilities.

“If it’s approved as written tonight, it’s a done deal,” Supervisor Dan Hutchins observed, just before the formal vote was held. Without fanfare trustees then signed off on the measure, which the township planning commission composed after researching the issue and conducting public meetings.

The measure allows no more than four “provisioning centers,” or medical marijuana sales outlets, in the township’s commercially zoned area, though there are restrictions on how close such outlets can be to schools, playgrounds, churches and the like. It also provides for growing and processing facilities, to be sited in the township’s industrial-zoned area.

The road forward for growers and vendors holds more regulatory hurdles. The township currently expects to begin accepting medical marijuana permit applications Aug. 1, said Township Clerk Patricia Bambrick.

Assuming the permitting process goes forward in an optimal manner, said Brad Burkett, an official with Huntington Valley Ventures, Paw Paw-based Huntington might be able to open the provisioning center it hopes to operate in the township as early as Oct. 1.

‘No’ on recreational pot

Separately, trustees voted Tuesday to prohibit any recreational-marijuana sales, at least for the time being. Like many other Michigan municipalities, the township is concerned that the state’s ambiguously worded recreational marijuana bill, which Hutchins has previously called “unclear at best,” could conceivably allow recreational-marijuana shops to open without local authorities’ approval.

With Monday’s vote, the township joins municipalities such as St. Joseph, Watervliet and Niles in blocking that possibility by formally “opting out.”