Brighton City Council votes to consider cannabis businesses, but not in downtown – Livingston Daily

Brighton City Council voted Saturday to take a first step toward potentially allowing certain types of marijuana businesses in city limits, but not in the downtown.
The city currently does not allow any types of recreational or medical marijuana businesses.
City Council voted, 6-1, to begin an ordinance review process that, if approved by city officials, would possibly allow for four marijuana business licenses in the city. 
As proposed — and it could change — the city would allow two marijuana dispensaries and two testing facilities. Brighton is not currently considering allowing marijuana grows, processing facilities, secure transportation businesses or any others.
The proposal would not allow marijuana dispensaries within either 1,000 or 500 feet of the downtown business district, including Main Street. 
MORE: What you need to know about marijuana developments in and around Livingston County
MORE: Whitmore Lake’s first marijuana dispensary to open Monday; two others expected within months
State law already prohibits marijuana businesses in areas zoned for only residential or within 1,000 feet of a school. 
Council member Jon Emaus said he is not in favor of allowing dispensaries downtown.
Other council members agreed they don’t want dispensaries on Main Street or in the downtown’s business district.
Parking, pedestrian traffic and downtown’s family-friendly atmosphere were among their main concerns. 
“I think we’re more of a children area than an adult area,” Emaus said during Saturday’s meeting. 
“I’m at the ends of Grand River,” he said, referring to a map showing where marijuana businesses could potentially be located. 
The map is available in the city’s meeting packet for the Saturday meeting at brightoncity.org
Vacant city-owned land near MJR Brighton Town Square Digital Cinema 20 in the Challis Road corridor near the Interstate 96 interchange was discussed. The city has been trying to market the land for sale for years. The city acquired it in a tax foreclosure. 
Council briefly discussed land off Challis Road as a place where multiple marijuana businesses could be clustered. 
On Saturday, they voted to instruct the city Planning Commission to review the idea of allowing dispensaries and testing facilities. The planning commission has 60 days to come back to City Council with its recommendations.
City Council would ultimately vote on whether to allow any types of marijuana businesses. 
They also voted to instruct the city’s attorneys to look into creating a licensing and application process. 
Mayor Pro Tem Susan Gardner was the only one to vote against the city looking into its options. Gardner said she did not see a benefit to having marijuana businesses. 
If the city were to ban dispensaries on Main Street, it would throw a wrench in cannabis businessman Jerry Millen’s dream of opening a dispensary in the former Rolison PRO Hardware building on Main Street, which he purchased this summer. 
Millen, who owns The Greenhouse dispensary in Walled Lake, said last month he knew the city might not allow him to open a dispensary on Main Street in Brighton. 
RELATED: Would Brighton allow a marijuana dispensary on Main Street?
RELATED: Rolison Hardware: Here’s to the memories and what’s next for the building
Millen has said his immediate plan is to restore the more than 100-year old building, keeping as much of its historic character intact as possible.
If it cannot be a dispensary, he said he wants it to become something new. 
“I want there to be a business here whatever happens,” Millen said last month. “Whatever business comes here, it needs to bring people downtown in the afternoon.”
There was a lot of discussion at Saturday’s meeting about how special interest groups and the threat of lawsuits pressure city officials across the state. 
Several city council members see it as a risk when outside groups petition to get questions on local ballots, leaving it up to voters to pass local ordinances created by special interest groups instead of the city.
A special interest group that wants to get proposals for marijuana business ordinances on ballots in Brighton and Howell formed earlier this year, according to Livingston County records. 
The group is called the Livingston Compassion Coalition 2021 and it was formed to support ballot proposals in Brighton and Howell. 
It happened in Pinckney. Voters in the village approved marijuana business in the village following a ballot petition by a special interest group.
Village officials reviewed and amended the ordinances and approved the first three marijuana business licenses for a marijuana growing, processing and sales facility at the former Pinckney Elementary School. 
RELATED: Cannabis entrepreneur in Pinckney intends to use profits to benefit people with disabilities
Brighton Mayor Shaun Pipoly indicated he is concerned about it getting on the ballot in Brighton. 
“Do we stay on our heels and stay opted out?” he said during Saturday’s meeting. “I think that leaves us open for things we don’t want.”
About 40 people attended Saturday’s meeting, including members of addiction prevention groups, marijuana industry advocates and Brighton locals. 
Brighton resident Ken Johnson said he is in recovery from addiction and is opposed to allowing dispensaries. 
“This is a danger in our community for children and people in recovery,” Johnson said. 
Jennifer Smith said she is against allowing dispensaries on Main Street. 
“I support the use of this, but I don’t support this in our backyard,” Smith said at the meeting. “I think this is a needed, necessary business, just not in downtown.”
Ken Burke, who said he’s a contractor who has worked on marijuana facilities, argued in favor of allowing marijuana business in the city. 
“If done correctly, you can have jobs and a positive impact on the community,” Burke said at the meeting. 
Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @jennifer_timar.

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