Pittsfield Township Board Holds Firm Against Medical Marijuana Caregivers

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 08/17/2015 - 00:29

The Pittsfield Township board held a public hearing at its regular meeting August 12 for a proposed marijuana dispensary in the township. The township zoning board denied the application of Great Lakes Alternative Medicine for approval to operate a dispensary at 4825 Washtenaw Ave.

Great Lakes made the application for zoning approval on May 13; the township imposed a moratorium on all marijuana facilities a few hours later.

Another marijuana facility, Bulldog Provisioning Center, was already open and operational in Pittsfield Township before the Great Lakes application; its status is being contested by the township.

The building for Great Lakes is located on the north side of Washtenaw just west of Glencoe Crossings shopping center.

The owner, Nathan Lev Podrid of Ann Arbor, is seeking to set up a business providing marijuana to individuals with doctors’ prescriptions.

Attorney Denise A. Pollicella of Howell appeared at the meeting on behalf of Great Lakes. “It’s easy to be afraid of marijuana,” she told the board.

“Some cities allow retail of marijuana, and there has not been any increase in crime,” she said.

 “The Declaration of Independence is written on hemp paper,” she noted.

Great Lakes plans to be a medical marijuana care facility, not a retailer, she explained. “We are not asking it to be available to the public.”

According to Pollicella, a new state law may be in place by October, allowing retail marijuana dispensaries.

James A. Fink, Pittsfield Township’s attorney, insisted the township’s moratorium does not violate state law.

He told them the moratorium is legal, so long as the property owner can conduct some other business in the space.

He indicated the building is zoned “mixed use” which includes general retail, medical office, child care, place of worship, services, funeral home, recreation studio, restaurant, and school.

Board member Michael Yi was skeptical. “We want to know what category this would fall under” in the zoning law, he said. “Or are we making a new category? I think this is comparable to a chiropractor giving medical practices.”

Fink told him flatly that his questions were not applicable. “That’s not what’s before you today,” Fink said

Yi replied, “I’m concerned about denying the public a service.”

Board Member Gerald Krone asked, “If we were to lift the moratorium for this business, what would happen?”

Fink told him, “You’d have 20 applications in the next seven days. It would be chaos.”

Clerk Alan Israel made a motion to deny the applicant. His motion was approved 4-2 with Krone and Yi voting no.  Board member Stephanie Hunt was absent.

Martha Churchill's picture
Martha A. Churchill
BA in Journalism and Anthropology at UM in 1973. Law degree at Cooley Law School in 1979. Member of Milan City Council since 2004. Practicing attorney. Genealogist since 2001; local historian since 2006. Free-lance writer.