WATERVLIET — Watervliet Township trustees formally signed off Monday on a long-in-development new parks and recreation plan, and also got an update on progress of a plan to legalize medical marijuana sales and production in the township.
The parks plan has been the subject of lengthy planning process, and trustees, after hearing a presentation by consultant Cindy LaGrow at their February meeting, had signaled they were prepared to sign off on the measure this month after the public-comment process concluded. That’s what happened Monday.
The board’s unanimous approval will allow the township to apply for grants through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. And while the plan contains a laundry-list of proposed improvements, LaGrow has emphasized the plan will serve only as a guideline, and the township won’t be obliged to pursue every element the plan lists.
The new five-year parks plan will take the place of the existing plan, which expires at the of this year.
Also Monday, trustees got an update on progress of the township’s medical-marijuana plans. Late last year, board members voted to “opt in,” or permit, state-licensed medical marijuana facilities; the township’s planning commission has since been conducting studies in order to draft an ordinance trustees can vote on.
In a news release made public Monday, the board said that after several meetings and “exhaustive research, which included visits and on-site inspections of existing facilities in other municipalities,” the planning commission has drafted such an ordinance.
The tentative plan is still subject to a number of public-comment hearings, with the first one slated for March 26. The draft ordinance tentatively will permit no more than six “grow facilities” and three marijuana-processing facilities, to be sited in the industrial zoning district; it also would allow no more than four “provisioning centers,” where people with medical marijuana cards can purchase the drug. The sales facilities are to be located in the township’s commercial zoning district.
Supervisor Dan Hutchins said he has been “really surprised that we haven’t heard from anybody in the community – for or against,” since the township voted to pursue the idea. There will be three public meetings on the draft ordinance in March and April, Hutchins said. But absent a major development, he added, “I think medical marijuana will be approved in Watervliet Township by June, if not earlier.”