Central Lake voters to consider allowing marijuana businesses in town

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

The Village of Central Lake's zoning map, which shows (in red) the large area zoned as "mixed-use" where marijuana shops and grow facilities would be allowed if a proposal that the village council agreed to place on the November ballot is approved by voters.


CENTRAL LAKE – During a special meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 7, the Central Lake Village Council approved a resolution to put the question of allowing marijuana businesses in the village on the November election ballot.

The motion for the resolution, which was made by Village Council President Larry Eckhardt, supported by trustee Matt Perkins, was approved by a vote of 6-1, with trustee Bill Chapman voting against the measure.

By law, a government body is required to put any proposal on the ballot if a petition signed by a minimum of five percent of the voters in the last election is submitted.

The petition accepted by the Central Lake Village Council, which was one of two submitted over the course of several months, was signed by 56 voters, 16 more than required, in just six days, according to Central Lake businessperson Kelly Young, who has been promoting the measure.

Young, who owns a business that sells non-hallucinogenic CBD oil, has said that she would like to open two buildings she owns on State Street as marijuana establishments – one for retail sales, the other as an education and awareness center.

The Village Council approved an ordinance last spring, allowing it to opt out of allowing marijuana businesses. That decision was made a short time after Young first approached the council about opening a retail establishment in a former Central Lake party store and former barber shop. At that time, Young was told she would have to instead begin the process to put the issue before the people.

Medical marijuana use was approved statewide in Michigan in 2008, with recreational marijuana use legalized in November 2018.

"We really have no choice here but to put it on the ballot for the voters to decide," Eckhardt said during the special meeting regarding the proposed resolution. "I've been told by our attorney that to not pass it would only open us up to a lawsuit. Since the proper procedure was followed, it is our charge to accept the legality of it."

But that wasn't done without a number of concerns voiced by those attending the recent meeting, along with one member of the council.

"I think it's a shame someone is trying to do this to our town," said DPW Supervisor Robert "Sam" Mullens. 

What concerned trustee Rob Tyler was the number of "grow" facilities that would be allowed in the village, if the ordinance allowing business establishments is approved. Tyler offered an array of comments after voting last Thursday to approve placing the measure on the ballot. Chapman, who opposed the measure, offered no comments.

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