2017-06-29 / Views

When a public notice fails in its mission

Solon Township is wasting money on two public notices.

That hurts to say. We’re big proponents of the public’s right to know what local governments are doing. And we fully support state laws that require governments to publish notice of such in community newspapers such as the Leelanau Enterprise.

Yes, that can be construed as self serving. But these pages and the Enterprise website represent the best venues for informing the public in Leelanau County.

But what happens when the notices are written so vaguely that readers have absolutely no idea of their impact?

The system fails.

Such was the case for the Solon Township Planning Commission notice that we published in the June 14 edition, and which is scheduled to be published again on July 6.

The notice seeks input on proposed changes “regarding non-specific Conditional Rezoning Procedure.”

Sounds innocuous, and indeed given the business request behind the notice it just might be painless.

A county man who wants to build and run a medical marijuana operation is requesting the zoning change. State law approved in the fall allows such operations, but only with consent of townships.

The first step toward that consent just happens to be changing “non-specific Conditional Rezoning Procedure.”

Should the change be made, applicants can seek permits to build medical marijuana growing facilities within industrial and agricultural districts. Most of Solon Township is zoned for agriculture.

Whether you agree or disagree with changes in marijuana regulations, you have a right to know when your local township is taking steps to allow marijuana growing in your neighborhood.

We mentioned our concerns to Timothy Cypher, Solon Township zoning administrator, who disagreed.

He said future public notices would be required before a conditional use permit could be issued to a medical marijuana operation. The complete procedure requires the Planning Commission to make a recommendation on a permit before the Township Board approves or rejects it.

Mr. Cypher saw no reason to publish the actual reason behind the proposed Zoning Ordinance change. He said that our opposing positions were such that we would have to “respectfully disagree.”

We do.

The combined cost of the notices is $92.10.

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