OSCODA – The Oscoda Board of Trustees gave the Planning Commission the go-ahead to create an adult-use recreational marijuana policy.
During the regular board meeting on Feb. 8, Trustee Bill Palmer, who also serves on the planning commission, explained to board members that the commission was waiting for the state to establish permanent rules before the township would get involved in recreational marijuana.
“A year or so ago the planning commission recommended to the township board that we opt out of the recreational marijuana because the state had not yet formalized regular rules as it related to the recreational, and we recommended that we wait until those rules had been formulated,” Palmer said. “Those rules have now been formulated and are permanent so that’s why the planning commission at this time is recommending that we put it to the township board for approval to move forward with the adult use recreational marijuana.”
Currently Oscoda Township allows for medical marijuana facilities, although there are not any currently in operation, Superintendent Michael Mitchell said. There are more than 200 people in Oscoda who hold medical marijuana cards, he said.
The problem lies with two marijuana dispensaries that have been approved to open within Oscoda Township. Right now with the township ordinances limiting customers to medical card holders only, it poses a challenge to those businesses, Palmer said.
“I would tell you there is serious concern about if they do open up strictly as a medical facility that they just won’t have a reasonable business plan to operate if they’re limited to only the medical because people aren’t renewing their medical cards, they don’t need to anymore,” Palmer said. “So it’s a difficult position for the two that we’ve approved site plans for, they both put extensive money into their facilities and now they are faced with a serious situation in terms of what their business plan will look like if they’re not able to include the recreational.”
Additionally, both AuSable Township and the City of East Tawas have approved recreational marijuana, so any customers could simply go to the next town over to get marijuana without needing a medical card.
“I’m not a big supporter of this business however I don’t think we should limit people in Oscoda Township when they can go to AuSable Township,” Trustee Steven Wusterbarth said. “The state law has changed, so unfortunately I think we need to change as well.”
Trustee Jeremy Spencer made the motion to direct the planning commission to create an adult-use recreational marijuana ordinance, which was seconded by Clerk Joshua Sutton. The motion received a 6-1 vote, with Trustee Tim Cummings voting against it.
Once the planning commission approves the new policy, it will come back before the Board of Trustees for final approval.
The board also took action on the following items:
• Approved a three-year contract with AuSable Township for sewer treatment services at a rate of $10.72 per one thousand gallons.
• Retained the interim attorney services of Alpena-based White, Wojda and Curtis at a rate of $165 per hour. This follows the resignation of former township attorney Robert Eppert last month.
• Scheduled a joint work session between the Board of Trustees and the Economic Improvement Committee for Thursday, Feb. 18 at 3 p.m. to discuss future housing possibilities in Oscoda, as well as the method for selling township property.
• Approved a request from Clerk Josh Sutton to purchase a version of the American flag with one blue line, one red line and one green line to honor police, firefighters and military personnel to fly over the township hall according to the flag code.
• Appointed Clerk Josh Sutton to the Iosco Exploration Trail Bike Path Committee, John Miner to the Planning Commission and Adam Hume to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
• Denied a request for a $75 fee waiver for the AuSable Valley Audubon to use the Warrior Pavilion for its end-of-year meeting on May 11.
• Approved a mobile boat wash at the Foote Site on July 16 and 17 to prevent the spread of invasive species. The event is part of a partnership between the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and the U.S. Forest Service to educate boaters.
•Accepted the resignation of Chris Kitchen, a township public works employee for the last 25 years. Citing him as an “important part in the fabric of our community for a long time,” board members thanked him for his service and promised to send him off more properly at a later date.