Watervliet planners reject medical marijuana

WATERVLIET — Watervliet could still get medical marijuana facilities, though the majority of city planners are not fans of the idea.

The Watervliet Planning Commission denied a motion Monday night to recommend to the City Commission to opt in to medical marijuana facilities. 

Planning Chairman Joe Engle said the City Commission could still decide to opt in, but will know that the Planning Commission is opposed. 

City Commissioner Luke Strunk, who serves on the Planning Commission, and Planning Commissioner Mallory Brown voted to recommend opting in, while City Commissioner Larry Hehl, who sits on the Planning Commission, Engle, and Planning Commissioners Cindy Muth and Key Hutchins voted not to.

Engle said planning commissioners visited the medical marijuana dispensary in Bangor, did research and asked a lot of questions over the last month to prepare for the vote.

Citizens voiced concern and support over having medical marijuana facilities in Watervliet at last month’s Planning Commission meeting, and a few returned to voice opposition Monday night. 

Bob Becker, who heads Watervliet’s Downtown Development Authority, said he spoke with Watervliet Public School’s Superintendent Kevin Schooley, who said he is not opposed to medical marijuana in general, but was concerned about a facility that his students would walk by every day. 

In fact, a lot of the concern was over having a facility on Main Street or in the downtown area.

Thomas Wright Jr., owner of a grow operation in Eau Claire and a dispensary in Buchanan, is interested in bringing a facility to Watervliet.

He said they wouldn’t necessarily have to locate the facility in downtown, but thinks Watervliet is a great area

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