Lapeer Extends Moratorium on New Cannabis Businesses for Six Months

July 3rd, 2024 Legislation & Policy Updates
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The Lapeer City Commission has unanimously voted to extend the current moratorium on new cannabis business applications for an additional six months. This decision, made on Monday, follows a similar six-month moratorium approved in January at the behest of City Manager Mike Womack, who sought time to collaborate with staff on amending ordinances and policies related to cannabis businesses.

City staff have identified several issues with the existing cannabis ordinances. Womack, in a memo to the City Commission, emphasized the need for the moratorium to allow staff to focus on studying and proposing necessary changes. "By imposing a moratorium, the City's staff can redirect the time normally required for their current cannabis-related work towards studying and proposing possible changes and solutions," Womack noted. "Also, by imposing a moratorium, we avoid a situation where a cannabis business attempts to obtain licensure or zoning approval during a time of changing rules and requirements."

Currently, Lapeer has licensed seven cannabis dispensaries, but there is no limit on the number of cannabis grow and processing facilities. The odor from these grow facilities has become a significant concern for residents and passersby, particularly along Saginaw and Court streets.

Additionally, the location of dispensaries and grow facilities has raised concerns among the public and some city officials. Issues have been noted regarding the impact of cannabis business operations on major roadways adjacent to other retail and commercial businesses, as well as their proximity to residential areas.

Lapeer's journey with cannabis laws began in April 2018 with the approval of medical marijuana, followed by the approval of recreational marijuana in 2020. In November 2021, city voters decisively rejected a ballot proposal to prohibit cannabis businesses by a 2-1 margin, with 1,137 votes against and 405 in favor.

"I had hoped to have the draft completed in six months, but life happened and I wasn't able to," Womack said. "I think three to four months is likely to get it done, and we will cancel the moratorium when a new ordinance is adopted."

The moratorium applies only to new cannabis licensure or zoning approval requests and does not affect existing approved requests. Renewals of current licenses are being processed through the City's regular procedures.

In related developments, Womack and city staff are negotiating with a Livonia company regarding a potential land swap. This would relocate a proposed cannabis grow facility from a vacant lot on Genesee Street, between Arnold's Car Wash and Krave restaurant, to a city-owned parcel in the industrial park on John Conley Drive.

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