Schoolcraft passes pot grow rules

MANISTIQUE — Medical marijuana growers are the focus of Schoolcraft County’s new zoning ordinance that will allow growing the plant commercially in Mueller Township. Mueller is the only township in Schoolcraft County that chose to permit commercial marijuana growing operations for medical use.

The Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners approved the zoning ordinance amendment at its meeting Thursday night. The ordinance requires indoor growers to have at least two acres of land and those growing outdoors must have five acres or more. It also orders structures be at least 100 feet from all lot lines. No lights can be visible from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Doors and windows must be closed at all times, except for entering and exiting the building.

Jerry Glasscock, Mueller Township supervisor, thanked the board for its vote on the ordinance. “This is going to get the ball rolling,” he said. “We will be moving forward. This is great for the community, for tourism, for businesses. It could become a kind of Napa Valley tourist thing with tour buses.”

Another township resident, George Manchester, noted Northern Michigan University has a “cannabis college” emphasizing the business aspects of growing marijuana. “We will have internships so they can learn the business,” he said. “Some of our licensing fees can be used to create scholarships. We will have a highly educated workforce.”

Commissioner Craig Reiter said the growers have paid all the required hearing and legal fees.

He added, currently the real estate market in the township is very hot. “Realtors tell me they’re selling property that’s been on the market for years,” Reiter said.

The commission also approved an amendment to a millage proposal for the county Soil Conservation District. The original proposal stated the plan would raise approximately $78,000 when first levied in 2017. District employee Bruce Birr said that was an error. The millage will begin in 2018, if successful.

In other business, Michigan Works! is planning to take over the former equalization office in the Schoolcraft County Courthouse. The move will give Michigan Works! 1,836 square feet for its operations. Commissioners set a rental fee of $1868.65 per month. It covers base rent, maintenance and repairs, snow removal, parking lot, roof, utilities, operating costs and salaries. The plan was approved and the county clerk was directed to present the lease to Michigan Works for signing.