County board approves marijuana overlay district for Mentor Township


In a six to one vote of the Cheboygan County Board of Commissioners, a zoning ordinance amendment was approved establishing a marijuana overlay district in Mentor Township.

Cheboygan County Director of Planning and Zoning Michael Turisk brought the amendment before the board, with the recommendation from the Cheboygan County Planning Commission to adopt the document.

“You might recall, I believe it was back in fall, that you approved the Nunda Township marijuana overlay,” said Turisk. “The Mentor Township marijuana overlay is essentially a mirror of what was approved for Nunda Township. It allows for certain marijuana or cannabis related uses in Mentor Township, in the agriculture and forestry management zoning districts only.”

With this overlay district, there will not be any dispensaries or retail establishments allowed in the township under the current zoning ordinance amendment. This could be changed in the future, should the township decide they want to allow these establishments.

An overlay district is a tool used by the department of planning and zoning. It allows special zoning districts to be placed over current base districts. These special districts then encourage or lead different types of uses, development, or protect certain resources in those districts that were not allowed prior to the overlays.

With the creation of the overlay district, all of the uses of the agriculture and forestry management zoning districts will still be allowed as they had been, as well as the new uses for the growing and processing of marijuana in those districts.

The way the amendment is written, two class A (no more than 100 plants), class B (no more than 500 plants), or class C (no more than 2,000 plants) growing facilities, or a combination of licenses, would be allowed in the township. Also, one marijuana processing facility, one secure transporter and one safety compliance facility would be allowed.

“Processing cannabis, growing and processing facilities would be allowed,” said Turisk. “The numbers of the various facilities that would be allowed is capped. So, there wouldn’t be a situation whereby the township would be ‘overrun’ with certain cannabis or marijuana related uses.”

Each of these uses are licensed under the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs by the Michigan Regulations and Taxation of Marijuana Act in areas that have “opted in” to having the adult use, or recreational use, marijuana facilities in their municipalities.

The planning commission had hosted a public hearing to gather input from local residents on the establishment of this overlay district. There were no comments from the public at this meeting.

Turisk said the Cheboygan County Planning Commission met on March 2 and voted unanimously to bring their recommendation of approval to the county board. The item was then placed on the county board of commissioners’ agenda for their consideration.

The marijuana overlay district zoning ordinance amendment has been reviewed by Cheboygan County civil counsel and approved by the lawyer.

The Mentor Township Board members had requested the planning commission consider the marijuana overlay district, to allow these types of businesses in the designated zoning areas. The Mentor Township board had approved an ordinance allowing these types of facilities in the municipality in 2021.

“That says it all, doesn’t it,” said Cheboygan County Commissioner Steve Warfield.

The Cheboygan County Board of Commissioners voted six votes to one to approve the overlay district as it had been presented to them. Cheboygan County Commissioner Curt Chambers voted against the motion.

Mentor Township covers the area from just north of White Road, south of Indian River, to just south of Scott Road, where the Thirsty Sturgeon is located. It runs west, on the north side of Wolverine Road to the Emmet County line, and north to Pickerel Lake Road.

Contact Features Writer Kortny Hahn at khahn1@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter at @khahnCDT.



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