By Graham Sturgeon, staff writer
THE OWOSSO RELIEF CENTER, 102 Corunna Avenue (M-71), in what had been Anthony’s Dairy Delight for decades until closing, as it appeared on Tuesday, Dec. 22. (Independent Photo/BILL CONSTINE)
The Owosso City Council voted Monday, Dec. 21, to begin the process of changing City Ordinance No. 38-217, which outlines zoning regulations for B-2 “Planned Shopping Center Districts.”
The council decided to add “treatment facilities” to the list of locations near which a medical marijuana dispensary cannot operate. Currently, the city of Owosso prohibits dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of another dispensary, any city-affiliated park or any school; or within 500 feet of a house of worship, any property zoned as residential, licensed day care facilities or public libraries.
Monday’s vote is just the beginning of the process however, and the next step is for the council to decide the language of the ordinance change, which could happen as early as the Jan. 4 meeting. The council would then hold a public hearing on the issue before voting to change the ordinance after that.
Mayor Ben Frederick opened the discussion of the issue during the council comments section of the meeting by reading a legal opinion that explicitly stated that medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal in Michigan. The discussion was initiated by the opening of the Owosso Relief Center, 102 Corunna Avenue (M-71), a medical marijuana facility that opened this month.
While Mayor Frederick reiterated that the facility is operating against State of Michigan law, the city has not moved to close the business at this time. He described the city ordinance concerning medical marijuana to be “on hold” for the time being while the city waits for House Bills 4209 and 4827 to make their way through the Michigan Senate.
Assistant City Manager and Planning Coordinator Susan Montenegro reported during the Dec. 14 Planning Commission meeting that Shiawassee County Prosecuting Attorney Deana Finnegan had sent the owner, Nick Jarbo, a cease and desist letter, but the owner said Tuesday that the letter never arrived.
“We are licensed and are operating with the blessing of the city,” Jarbo said. “The city laws say that I can operate here and I never would have opened this business without the go-ahead from the city.”
Owosso Public Safety Director Kevin Lenkart said during the Dec. 21 meeting that he has not had any complaints about the new business and that his department has treated the new business the same as they would any other.