York Township to Appeal Medical Marijuana Decision

 05/13/2016 - 10:42
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Dave Miller, who grows medical marijuana, is pictured at the York Township hall with his associates. From left: Jesse Ridley, Dave Miller, Katherine Null, Amanda Edmunds, and Hayley Barton.

 

A court action filed by York Township concerning medical marijuana has been decided by Judge Carol Kuhnke, Washtenaw County Circuit Judge.

Her decision states the township may not prohibit the outdoor growth of medical marijuana in all zoning districts.

The lawsuit is titled “Charter Township of York v. Donald Miller, Katherine Null, and David Miller.”

The township filed the lawsuit after the defendants planted marijuana plants behind a home in York Township. The location is zoned residential. Both York Township Supervisor John Stanowski and grower David Miller asked that the location of the home not be published.

York Township has taken the position that medical marijuana plants must be grown indoors, according to Stanowski. He says plants may be grown outdoors only if they are not visible from neighboring property.

Stanowski points to a provision in the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA), which says the plants must be grown in an “enclosed locked facility.”

The issue came up at the York Township meeting May 10, the same day that Judge Carol Kuhnke signed an order against the township.

The order says: “To the extent that the York Township Zoning Ordinance prohibits the outdoor growth of medical marijuana in all zoning districts, it is unenforceable for the reason that it conflicts with the provisions of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act which expressly permits the outdoor growth of medical marijuana.”

The matter came up at the regular township meeting, as board members met in a closed session with their attorney, Victor Lillich of Ann Arbor. 

After the board ended the closed session, and let the public re-enter, the board decided to appeal the decision.

The vote was 5-2 in favor of appeal, with Sally B. Louis and Jill Hargrove voting against an appeal.

“We want them to comply with our zoning ordinance,” said Stanowski afterwards. “Right now they’re in a residential area.”

Stanowski said he was not satisfied with chicken wire over the top. “It’s an attractive nuisance,” he added.

“I don’t think anyone wants marijuana to be grown or sold in a residential neighborhood.”

Dave Miller, who was present at the York Township Board meeting with some other medical marijuana advocates, says there is a planting area behind a home. It's 50 by 60 feet. He describes the fencing as stockade, with 5/8 inch plywood laminated to the inside.

“It’s like two walls, to make it invisible,” he commented.

The plants are protected by cameras and security alarms, according to Miller.

Stanowski commented later that he doesn’t think this growing area is allowed by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.

A portion of the Act says:

“Marihuana plants grown outdoors are considered to be in an enclosed, locked facility if they are not visible to the unaided eye from an adjacent property when viewed by an individual at ground level or from a permanent structure and are grown within a stationary structure that is enclosed on all sides, except for the base, by chain link fencing, wooden slats, or a similar material that prevents access by the general public and that is anchored, attached, or affixed to the ground…. and equipped with functioning locks or other security devices that restrict access…”

Based on it’s vote at the May 10 meeting, the York Township board is headed to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Martha Churchill
Martha Churchill is an attorney, author, and local historian who resides in Milan. Visit her website at http://marthachurchill.com/