2017-09-28 / Local News

Group stays involved in Solon

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

Adversity has brought together a group of people who love living in Solon Township and want to keep it lovable.

The Solon Township Improvement Committee (STIC) was organized in response to a proposal to construct a medical marijuana grow and processing facility off Lincoln Road in Solon Township.

The group took out a 3/4-page advertisement in the Sept. 21 issue of the Enterprise.

“From bad things, good things happen,” said Kim Smith, STIC president. “We came together as neighbors with one thing in common: our love the Leelanau Peninsula and our lives here.”

Throughout the summer, residents came out in full force attending public meetings and expressing their opposition toward construction the facility they say would negatively impact neighborhoods.

The Township Board unanimously adopted a resolution in mid-August to ban such medical marijuana facilities.

A proposal was presented in tandem with a proposed zoning amendment which would allow mixed uses with conditions throughout the township has also been dropped.

The planners agreed at their Sept. 5 meeting to “not move on with the conditional rezoning and recommended the board do the same.”

STIC members met every other week this summer while the ordinance and proposal were under consideration. Interest in the future of the township has not waned since.

STIC has taken a watchdog approach with at least two representatives attending each Planning Commission and Township Board meeting, including the Planning Commission meeting at which the conditional zoning proposal was dropped.

“Once you lose that sense of trust, it’s hard to bring it back,” Smith said.

Committee members keep in touch via an extensive email tree with regular dispatches from Smith of others attending board meetings.

“We’d been remiss not going to meetings,” said Smith, adding that most zoning changes require notice to property owners within 300 feet of an affected parcel. “We’re in a rural area may not be that close, but what happens will still impact our lives.”

STIC members also took interest at the Sept. 5 Planning Commission meeting when a proposal to rezone 35 acres along M-72 was discussed.

Corey Flaska of Cedar has requested the acreage be rezoned from agriculture/ conservation to business 1 for a multi-housing, retail development.

Flaska was questioned by group members about the type of and density of housing planned, sewer and utilities, and type of retail space proposed.

At the end of discussion, Planning Commission members asked Flaska to come back with a specific proposal for 15 acres.

Smith complimented the Township Board and its handling of the marijuana proposal, noting that they listened to both sides in the controversy and were responsive to concerns raised.

She said she’s not aware of anyone in the group with plans to further the committee’s platform by running for office.

In the meantime, Smith said STIC members have enjoyed getting to know one another.

“We have developed an old-fashioned sense of community,” she said. “We all love the safety of our rural, quiet neighborhood.”

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