BANGOR TWP, MI - The Bangor Township Board of Trustees have thrown their support behind bringing a medical marijuana grow and distribution facility to Bay County.
Trustees unanimously agreed at their meeting Tuesday, May 9, to support an investment of a grow and distribution facility. Before any type of industry comes to town, however, the township needs to update its code of ordinances.
About 50 people were in attendance at Tuesday's meeting.
Oasis Wellness Center, based out of Clawson, Michigan, is interested in investing $21 million into the former Dow Chemical Co. and Crane Resistoflex building, 4675 E. Wilder Road.
During public input, Oasis Vice President Paul Weisberger said his company is looking to employ more than 100 people in the 320,000 square-foot building. Weisberger said Oasis is not currently in the medical marijuana field.
Bangor Township Supervisor Glenn Rowley said other companies have reached out to the township, although Oasis has been the most vocal.
Rowley said future board meetings will discuss ordinances and layout details.
"There's one opportunity to do this right and we want to make sure we have that," Rowley said. "We agree we are going forward on this."
As part of the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act, which went into effect last December, application processes for licensed dispensaries is expected to be finalized by Dec. 31.
Rowley said during the meeting if the board should not continue to "kick the can month-after-month."
An official with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) told The Bay City Times-MLive that applications for medical marijuana licenses will be available by Dec. 15. Those licenses could be issued by the first quarter of 2018.
Trustee Neil Froncek said he has met with Andrew Brisbo, licensing director at the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and Shelly Edgerton, director of the LARA executive team.
Froncek, who is resigning from the board next month to become the township's building inspector, said Bangor Township has many opportunities and it must act on implementing this now.
"If you're not the first one in, you're the last one in," Froncek said.
Bangor Township resident Dot Rifenbark said during public input that having a grow and distribution center in the community sends a "mixed message." She asked why the community should trust Oasis when they have never grown medical marijuana before.
"After decades of telling our children to just say no to drugs, now our own local township board is saying that if it means money, that could help your dad have a better job, then it's ok," Rifenbark said.
Rowley said the board still needs to work with the Bangor Township Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals as the process unwinds. However, he said there has been support from the community.
"Agriculture is the No. 2 industry in the state of Michigan," Rowley said. "Why should medical marijuana be any different than a sugar beet or corn? Who else is going to be knocking down our door and say we have a $21 million investment in your community, we'd like to employ an excess of 100 people? That opportunity doesn't come along often."