Breitung looks to opt out of allowing marijuana businesses

QUINNESEC — The Breitung Township Board will have a public hearing in January on a potential ordinance that, now that marijuana recreational use is legal in Michigan, would prevent retail sales and other commercial operations within its borders.

The hearing, set for Jan. 14, is required for an ordinance change, and unlike medicinal marijuana, the township must formally opt out if it wants to keep such shops from starting up, township Superintendent Gaudette told the board Monday night.

While some other area municipalities are waiting to see what guidelines the state government might develop regarding recreational marijuana sales — Breitung could hold off as well, Gaudette said — several board members were ready now to just say no.

“I feel the sooner, the better,” Trustee Rich Wales said, pointing out the majority of the town’s voters Nov. 6 came out against recreational use.

Trustee Brent Johnson recommended the township take some time to consider what type of money the marijuana sales might bring in for the community. But others on the board noted the costs to enforce the new regulations likely will outweigh any additional revenue and strain the town’s resources.

Township officials also can alter the ordinance later if they choose, Gaudette advised.

The fact that December already has a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. Dec. 10 was all that kept Supervisor Denny Olson from taking up the recreational marijuana issue next month, he said.

“But I think this is something we need to nip in the bud,” he commented with a straight face.

In other business, the board:

— Authorized moving forward with WE Energies, through Upper Michigan Energy Resources, on replacing 218 streetlights in the township, at an estimated upfront cost of $33,625, plus about $500 per month for seven years. But the township should recoup the costs in about 10 years and see almost $134,000 in energy savings over 20 years, Gaudette said.

— Set the 2019 meeting schedule, including deciding the final meeting of the year will be on Dec. 23, 2019.

— Heard that the red mailbox outside township offices at 3851 Menominee Ave. in Quinnesec has been set up for Letters to Santa.