Unethical Behavior Charges Leveled

Master Plan Review Postponed Again

Manager Recommends Limiting Public Input

by David Gordon, Sept. 24, 2019

The Board of Trustees last night spent nearly four hours struggling with the marijuana question – whether or not it can be grown, processed and sold in Northfield Township and if so, with what restrictions; this despite a super-majority of residents approving recreational marijuana use 2-to-1 last November.

They don’t call it “Dope” for nothing.

The meeting room was packed with residents. Of the nearly 50 people who attended, most spoke in favor of marijuana. The first “Call to the Public” took nearly an hour as more than 20 people spoke in favor of marijuana businesses while a handful spoke against.

The quotes below are not exact “word-for-word” but efforts were made to accurately convey the substance.

Ms. Dana Forrester, owner of Lovey Monkey Tatoo on Main Street, began with what many considered the most powerful message…that downtown businesses support marijuana dispensaries. She said these businesses are in favor:

  • Mac’s Marina
  • Dee’s Ice Cream
  • Little Porky’s
  • Rick’s Bait Shop
  • Driftwood Marina
  • Polly’s Market
  • Dominos Pizza
  • Whitmore Lanes
  • Coney Island
  • Bobber Down
  • Dockett’s Pawn Shop
  • Employees at Marco’s Pizza
  • Employees of Peaberry’s Coffee Shop
  • The Township Library
  • Living Water Church

We want the traffic,” Forrester said. “We want the tax revenue. We want improvement in our downtown. I urge you Board members, listen to the businesses that are here. We want it.”

Ms. Mary Czech, owner of Family Video on Barker Road said. “I don’t think it (marijuana business) will save Northfield but it can move us forward.   It’s not going to be our anchor. It’s just a small business and we should give it a chance. I do believe it will help the downtown community.”

Mr. L. J. Walter said: “One simple point. I’ve been here for a year. There are more closed businesses than open.   If a marijuana business is the catalyst to make something happen, I am 110% for it.”

Lifelong resident Ms. Cristina Dillen said she was recently diagnosed with a serious illness “and getting around is very difficult for me. I live in Whitmore Lake and work here. Going to a dispensary in a different town; all the way in Ypsilanti or Ann Arbor, is very hard for me.”

Mr. Harrison Withers said “I’ve been a resident for two years. I saw downtown and said, ‘Well that’s not so good’. Dispensaries are not going to fill downtown.   Grow operations aren’t going to take up every square inch of agricultural.  We’ve got to take what businesses we can get and start somewhere.”

Mr. Kevin Terry said he’d attended a marijuana open house at Family Video last Thursday. “ I learned….the (marijuana) people take their business very seriously. A cannabis business knows all eyes are on them and they need to operate above board. I’m a CPA and would service these tax paying, revenue generating businesses.”

Ms. C.C. Koenig took the opposing viewpoint. She said “having these businesses…does not equal tons of tax revenue. I don’t think right now is the time to have them. “

Ms. Elizabeth Wheeler, who brought one of her two young daughters, said “Not wanting to have it (a pot shop) here has nothing to do with my children. They’re going to get it whether or not there’s a shop. I don’t think putting a pot shop in our town is the best thing.”

A number of people questioned the ethics of three Board members -- Supervisor Marlene Chockley, Clerk Kathy Manley and Trustee Tawn Beliger. These three helped circulate a petition that led to a “ban pot” initiative on the upcoming Nov. 5 ballot.

Ms. Meredith Counts said “You circulated the petition and we didn’t find out about that from you. It creates a lack of trust.   63% voted in favor of legalization. You implied that maybe we didn’t understand what we voted for and I think that’s a disrespectful suggestion.   And you verified or certified your own petitions. It feels like dirty politics.”

Mr. Craig Warburton said the three Board members acted with bias when they scheduled a special meeting and enlisted the township attorney to write ballot language in order to meet the county’s referendum deadline.   He said the three Trustees should have recused themselves from voting on the matter and if they had, the motion to ask the petition be put on the ballot would have failed.

Ms. Stacey Sloan said “There are three of you on the board who are subject of some serious allegations. None of us appreciate it. The people here deserve to know their interests are not being met. “

Sloan’s comments and many pro-marijuana speakers got rousing applause from the audience and Supervisor Chockley did not appreciate it.  She lost her patience after the last speaker and said to the residents: “Now stop that!”

Trustee Dockett countered with: “I believe people in the audience can show their appreciation”.

Then the Board got down to business, kind of. There were 24 motions and amendments relating to the marijuana debate merely to establish the number of businesses and their locations.

It took the Board three votes just to agree on a date for extending the “Sunset Clause” (by which time the Board must vote to opt in or opt). They finally agreed on Nov. 12, a week following the much-anticipated Nov. 5 ballot initiative to prohibit all marijuana in the township.

The Board voted to establish 500’ as the distance a dispensary must be from a school or church…BUT….directed the attorney to check whether it’s legal.

Here’s a condensed list of only the Motions that passed:

  • Sunset Clause moved to Nov. 12
  • Set a 500’ buffer from a marijuana establishment to other public facilities.
  • Remove Class C medical & recreation facilities from the Agricultural district.
  • Remove Class B medical facilities from the Agricultural district.
  • Twelve grow permits will be available – six for recreational and six for medical.

And here’s a short list of motions that show why the meeting went four hours:

  • Require security cameras (including recordings and recordkeeping) comply with all State requirements.
  • Require that grow operations change their odor filters every year or to manufacturer’s specs, whichever timeframe is shorter.
  • Change language from “zoning code enforcement” to “ordinance enforcement”.


We built this meeting's LiveAgenda on the draft 9/24 meeting minutes.  By clicking many of the speaker names and agenda items, you can zoom directly to the point in the meeting video where the speaking or agenda item transpires.

As predicted by Treasurer Lenore Zelenock at the beginning of the meeting, the agenda was “way too big”.

As the clocked ticked past 10:30 pm, the Board tabled half of the agenda including review of the new $35,000 Master Plan and a discussion of policies to limit public input, as recommended by Township Manager Steven Aynes.

Aynes’ report recommends completely eliminating the 2nd Call to the Public and Supervisor Chockley is pushing to discontinue the long-time practice of allowing a non-speaking member of the public to “donate” their three minutes to another speaker.

The meeting adjourned at 11:07 pm.


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