Residents resist medical marijuana growers in rural Kalamazoo County

ROSS TOWNSHIP, MI — Residents in a small Kalamazoo County community are fighting to keep medical marijuana facilities from their rural neighborhoods.

Entrepreneurs bringing plans to the Ross Township Planning Commission for approval have been met with opposition from hundreds of residents. Monday’s planning meeting was the latest battleground in a conflict between township officials and residents who want to repeal medical marijuana ordinances passed in January.

Citizen group “Ross Township for Sustainable Development” handed out yard signs and flyers before the meeting. Vehicles, some painted with phrases like “protect our rural area,” spilled out of township offices parking lot into the shoulder along M-89 at Monday’s meeting.

Nearly a dozen residents said the fate of medical marijuana should be decided by a vote of the people.

Lynn Harmon is running for a seat on the township Board of Trustees to represent the group’s interests. She said Ross Township was derelict in its duty to notify the community about medical marijuana meetings, instead opting to pass the ordinances in the dark. 

Residents who addressed the Planning Commission Monday said marijuana shouldn’t be grown in rural residential zoning districts. They also expressed concerns about odor, security and the amount of water and energy consumed by marijuana grow operations. 

“This is really an organic growth of a group that has come out when we heard what was going on,” Harmon said. “Our argument is not about medical marijuana. Our argument is it doesn’t belong in rural residential (zoning districts).”

Developers must receive authorization from the township and a state license to open marijuana businesses. Provisioning centers are not permitted. 

Growers, processors, secure transporters and safety compliance facilities are allowed in industrial zoning districts. Growers, and processors when on the same site as a grower facility, are allowed as special uses in rural residential districts and agricultural preservation districts.

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