Amendment to Change Troy Marijuana Law Not on Ballot

Attorney Jeffery Schroeder with People for a Responsible Troy speaking to Troy City Council on August 13, 2018.

by CYNTHIA KMETT

It’s going to be a crowded ballot in the November election, including legalizing recreational marijuana, but there’s one question you will not be voting on: changing the Troy Charter to allow all kinds of medical marijuana operations in Troy. These were exactly the operations the Troy City Council had “opted out” of earlier this year.

At that time, an attorney for medical marijuana growers said if the city didn’t step up they would get the voters to give them the right to expand. They tried this summer, but failed.

If you smoke or buy alcoholic beverages, there’s a good chance you saw the petitions circulating this summer laying on the counter in local stores. It was a petition to place a Troy City Charter Amendment on the November 6 ballot. It was a proposal to authorize existing medical marijuana locations to obtain a facility operating license from the state of Michigan.

The proposed amendment would authorize existing medical marijuana locations with a building permit for modifications specific to the growth, cultivation or storage of medical marijuana to obtain a city license and state medical marihuana facility operating license. It would also authorize the following types of state operating licenses: Grower, Processor, Secure Transporter, Provisioning Center, and Safety Compliance Facility.

The proposal included strict compliance with all applicable laws and ordinances by the facility operators and would require the city council to adopt a licensing ordinance that establishes an annual, non-refundable license fee of up to $5,000 for each facility.

In an update to Troy City Council last week, City Clerk Aileen Dickson said that in order for the question to be on the November ballot, the petitioners needed 5 percent, or 2,925 registered Troy voters to sign the petition. The group known as People for a Responsible Troy Charter Amendment Petition turned in 516 pages with signatures. The City Clerk, however, found some problems in reviewing the signatures. Dickson noted there were “significant irregularities on many pages of the petition.” In fact, these pages have been turned over to the Troy Police Department and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office for investigation and possible prosecution.

On the remaining pages, Dickson noted that the following conditions caused signatures to be invalid: Circulator’s signature was not notarized as required by Section 25 of the Home Rule City Act and the signer was not registered to vote in Troy or at all. Some people signed the petition twice, which causes both signatures to be invalidated, and either the signer or circulator incorrectly completed their information on the petition.

In the end, there were only 2,524 valid signatures.

A representative of People for a Responsible Troy Charter Amendment Petition was at last Monday’s City Council meeting demanding to see why the petitions for the charter amendment has been denied. He was upset that he has been told to FOIA a request, which City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm told council was absolutely proper. However, she did say that if the gentlemen came to city hall on Tuesday, they would show him the problems. Maybe he can tell them why some pages were just duplicates of other pages.

In other business, the city has a new lawsuit to fight in Federal Court. Crossroads Outdoors, LLC and Troy Outdoor, LLC have filed suit in U.S. District Court. Last year, the plaintiffs applied for permits to construct eight 200 square foot digital signs in various locations in the City of Troy. The sign permit applications were approved because the proposed signs complied with the size, height and setback provisions of Troy’s sign ordinance. Plaintiffs rapidly and instantaneously installed five of the signs (three on Rochester Road, one on Maple Road, and one on Livernois).

The signs weren’t even operational before residents started to voice their complaints and concerns. In response, the city declared a 180-day moratorium on new signs over 36 square feet while they explored the safety of all the new electric signs and their flashing messages. The moratorium was extended twice while the traffic engineers studied the impact of the signs.

The sign companies, however, apparently got tired of waiting and have filed suit declaring the city is denying their rights under the federal Civic Rights Act. They also believe they’re not getting due process and that none of the work stoppages on three signs the city put on hold was illegal and should be allowed to move forward since they were already approved.

City Council voted to allow the city to defend itself and to call expert witnesses as necessary.