Meridian Twp. board tackles recreational pot, development project

Michigan

MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLNS) — The Meridian Township Board voted to ban recreational marijuana shops from operating within the township at Tuesday’s meeting.

The township board voted unanimously to approve the ordinance. Violators will face a $5,000 fine.

Clerk Brett Dreyfus it will give them time to study how medical marijuana dispensaries impact the township, as well as how recreational pot being legalized impacts the state as a whole.

“There really was no disagreements among any board members that we just needed to take a pause on this,” he said. “We may look at that again a year or later down the road after we’ve had a chance to review the current medical marijuana situation.”

Dreyfus said if the board revisits the issue at that time, they could vote to allow recreational marijuana facilities if they feel it’s in the township’s best interest.

At the meeting, the board also voted on two key issues surrounding a major development project in downtown Okemos.

Blighted buildings in the area of Hamilton and Okemos Roads will soon be coming down, and new residential and commercial buildings going up.

Tuesday, a handful of residents showed up to the board meeting to weigh in on the project. Some expressed concerns about the project.

“I am concerned that the commercial space allocation is too sparse to be truly viable,” one resident said.

Dreyfus also weighed in, saying he was worried about the lack of green space, as well as potential traffic issues.

“We’re going to have more traffic delays, additional lights. That’s usually associated with a decrease of quality of life,” he said. “Having more traffic lights to wait usually means longer times to get places. Usually increases some driver frustration.”

There were also questions about how the new, five-story buildings would fit in.

But other residents were enthusiastic about a project they say is a long time coming.

“This project, I’ve come to realize, will be a huge improvement to the quality and attractiveness to the heart of our community,” one resident said.

“In my opinion, the development will give the area a destination hub for years to come,” another said.

After hearing both sides, the board voted to increase the number of residential units from 174 to 205. They also voted to increase the total size of the project by around 5,000 square feet. Both votes were unanimous.

Will Randle, the Chief Operating Officer of True North Development, which is managing the project, said demolition of the buildings is expected to start within the next few months, and be complete by early 2020. He hopes construction will be complete by 2021.

Randle added he’s excited they are able to take the next steps on the project.

“We have some environmental cleanup work to do, which will take place through the rest of this year, through early next year,” he said. “Then right behind that, we will start construction of a subterranean parking deck on one of the blocks. And then you’ll start to see some buildings coming out of the ground by next spring.”

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