Township awaits marijuana rules
Like many communities awaiting statewide rules regarding newly legalized marijuana establishments, Allegan Township is officially prohibiting the businesses.
Board members voted on Monday, Feb. 4, to accept the recommendation from its planning commission to opt out of allowing recreational establishments until at least the state rules can be understood.
Township board member Jim Connell, who also sits on the planning commission, said, “I’m having a little trouble voting against the will of the people, but I don’t like putting something in place without knowing the repercussions—and (the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs) hasn’t written the regulations yet.”
In last November’s statewide referendum, Allegan Township voters favored legalizing recreational marijuana by a 907-to-878 vote.
Connell said it also felt counterproductive to instead allow recreational marijuana after the township the previous year had opted out of allowing medical marijuana establishments in the township.
“That makes for a tremendous inconsistency,” he said.
He proposed opting out and reviewing this stance later. Board members voted unanimously to do so.
Township supervisor Steve Schulz said the township will be reorganizing its next budget to fund sidewalk work.
This is because, he said, he and city officials had recently learned that a grant for the work was going to be paid only after the work was completed.
The Safe Routes to School project will add sidewalks near Dawson and West Ward elementary schools and L.E. White Middle School using a $650,000 reimbursement grant. It is slated for construction this year.
Sidewalk work includes primarily:
• south side of Delano from Sherman to Adams
• north/east side of Lincoln (M-40/M-89) from approximately Pine to Grant (part of this work is planned as an asphalt path)
• both sides of Grant from Western (M-40/M-89) to Delano
• both sides of 115th Avenue from the “Tiger Trail” at the middle school west to 34th Street
• both sides of Knapp from Vernon to Academy
The grant was submitted in October 2016. The competitive grants are federal money dispersed by the Michigan Department of Transportation in cooperation with the Michigan Fitness Foundation.
The township and city split the cost of the engineering designs created by engineering firm Prein & Newhof.
Though there are no matching funds required to receive the grant, the two municipalities will now have to front the cost of the work.
“It won’t be a problem, but we will likely have to make some changes to the budget,” Schulz said. “We’ll probably be backing off from taking money out of our contingency fund. In recent years, we’ve moved $50,000 for roadwork, $50,000 for capital improvement, and $50,000 for our recreation fund. We’ll probably hold back on that so we can afford to make these payments. We will just have to keep this in the back of our mind as we do the budget.”
The township’s fiscal year ends at the end of March.
No matter how that turns out, Schulz said he was eager to see the plan come to fruition, having been in the works for several years.
“Plans are close to being done,” he said. “I think there are still some rights of way to get. But it should still get started this summer.”
Township board members voted unanimously to increase the amount paid to the Allegan City Police Department in next year’s budget to $10,000, up from $6,000.
Next year will mark the third year the township has made the payment, an effort to compensate the department for its frequent response in the township.
Schulz said police officers respond to approximately 300 calls annually in the township. With an average response time of about five to 10 minutes, they are typically first to arrive. The township is technically covered by the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office.
“But the sheriff would be the first to admit their response time is about 45 minutes,” Schulz said. “The Allegan police come into the township a lot; I feel this is extremely reasonable for 300 calls.”
Contact Ryan Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or (269) 673-5534.