Going to the People

Posted on November 17, 2022 View all news

Joe Tilton

January 18, 2018

The year-long discussion about marihuana had been announced at the previous meeting to be on the agenda at the January 10th Montcalm Township Board meeting, but it wasn’t. Still, with apparent anticipation of discussion, the audience brought it up as did their Planning Commission Chairman, Dick Karnatz, who named the Daily News in Greenville and the Lakeview Area News as reporting details of the marihuana dispensaries topic discussion inaccurately.

“Trust” in the Planning Commission, he felt, has been shaken due to a story in December indicating “manipulation and commotion,” at the hearings, where Karnatz invoked “Robert’s Rules of Order” as being enforced during some pro-and-con discussion among attendees. We were mentioned as a publication that suggested discrediting members of the Planning Commission by questioning if any member had a financial interest in the marihuana business in the township. It was our belief the issue had been put to rest.

Facebook posts have “inaccurate information” also, based on “Lakeview News,” he said. The posts may be “possible slander” and their [Planning Commission] actions in service to the township should be supported. “If there is no trust between boards, let’s get it fixed,” he said.

With no previous reference to “the Board swaying back the way it was,” Karnatz indicated he was fearful it may be happening again.

A comment by Superintendent Mike Adams indicated he cares about what is going on, and that medical marihuana is an emotional issue and “very strong”.

Karnatz also detailed the responsibilities of his commission, such as developing an excellent master plan for the township’s future, 10 to 20-years out, considering special-use permits, sub-division plans with easements, interpretation of state law and more. He said he wanted to leave personal conviction out of their decisions.

While medical marihuana was not on the agenda, Board Member Tim Rau distributed a signed statement to board members that he was not the source of a rumor among the board.

Adams also commented that when one serves the public, “we are under a microscope as a public servant.”

It was agreed that the decision about medical marihuana dispensaries will be decided by a survey to be included in tax-statements to be sent out. Their attorney, as reported, had advised that a ballot-type election on the subject was not appropriate but the survey is, since no additional funds would be required.

One person attending, who has been vocal about wanting permission to open a dispensary in the township, told the group, “I cannot force the board to do anything either way.” and that she would live with the decision from the [mailed] survey. She had been taking her own survey and “tried to do it right.”

Board member Rau had been pushing for a public decision for some time, detailed in his interview with the Lakeview Area News, January 11th edition.

Even with the meeting being openly video recorded by a member of the audience, the tone and rhetoric was significantly lowered. Announced involvement by the Federal Government’s Justice Department about intentions to enforce their marihuana laws, may have been one reason the issue was discussed in a much more subdued way.

Joining the Michigan Township Association was discussed, and a board member from Eureka Township stood to advise Montcalm Township to become a member.

County Commissioner John Johansen suggested that they familiarize themselves with the Michigan Open Meetings Act to be sure they are always in compliance.

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