Board OKs Local Pot Businesses
Downtown Property Value Jumps 27%
Angry Treasurer Calls for Firing Manager & Planner
Residents Pack Meeting & Speak Up!
Calling All Volunteers

Nov. 12, 2019
By David Gordon

“Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em”

The Board of Trustees last night adopted a Marijuana Ordinance that allows a limited number of pot shops downtown; micro-businesses in the rural district and larger grower/processor operations in areas zoned for industry.

The ordinance passed 6/1 (Trustee Tawn Beliger opposed) after hours of discussion. Changes were made to include pot shops downtown. The ordinance is effective Dec. 17. Manager Steven Aynes is to draft an application process ASAP.

(link here to the ordinance in the packet)

Are Property Value Set to Skyrocket?

One immediate impact of the referendum was a big bump in value for at least one township-owned property.....the old township hall/fire station at 75 Barker Road.

A buyer last week offered $275,000 but after the vote Nov. 5 allowing pot shops downtown, a second buyer offered $350,000 (a 27% increase). Both buyers may be planning to open pot shops. No decision was made to sell and some suggested that the value of the North Village property be reconsidered.

Off with Their Heads!

“It’s time to fire people,” said Treasurer Lenore Zelenock at the four-hour mark. “Because come 2020, we’re going to get fired (for allowing this incompetence to continue)......”I am appalled that three years into this administration, (Manager Steven Aynes) still can’t get our agendas right.....” (link @ 3:43:00)

Zelenock’s frustration with Planner Paul Lippens resulted from a major error in the marijuana ordinance which would have prohibited pot shops downtown, among other issues.

Residents Speak Up!

Pro and anti-pot “activists” packed the meeting and many spoke at the “First Call to the Public” which lasted more than 45 minutes. It was obvious the Nov. 5 referendum vote (56% to 44% in favor of allowing local pot businesses) changed very few minds.

Mary Devlin, a long-time resident and frequent speaker at Board meetings, announced this would be her last appearance. She said she was disappointed with the referendum turnout, upset with the outcome and exhausted by her efforts. (We hope she returns soon.) (10:15)

Northfield Township Wants You!

There are multiple openings on various township boards and committees.
Land Preservation Committee – 3 openings
Downtown Development Authority – 3 openings
Planning Commission – 2 openings
Parks & Recreation Committee – 1 or more

Contact Supervisor Chockley. Office: (734) 449-2880, ext. 15 * Cell: (734) 730-0795 * This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Rest of the Story

“Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em”

Before the final passage, Beliger made numerous motions to block marijuana availability in town and to completely prohibit it in the rural area. Her attempts all failed on 4/3 votes. Her only support came from Supervisor Marlene Chockley and Clerk Kathy Manley. This little drama took 10 minutes.

Beliger labeled as “reckless” the four Board members who supported pot businesses, warning “your names will forever be attached to this”. She said the Board was opening “Pandora’s Box”. At one point, she asked “Do I need to get down on my knees and beg?” Her plea went unanswered.

Chockley tried to mandate that pot businesses donate to local charities and that medical and recreational businesses be required to “co-locate” in the same building. Both motions failed for lack of support.

Trustee Jacki Otto argued for hiring a part-time employee t minimum wage to handle pot applications but got significant pushback from Trustees who said such an idea was premature.
Off with Their Heads!

Zelenock’s main issue at this meeting with Manager Aynes was that he put the pot ordinance at the very end of the agenda. Several residents said they found the placement disrespectful, “a slap in the face”. Often Board meetings run so long that the last items are postponed. This meeting didn’t adjourn until 11pm.

Zelenock blamed the four Trustees for the Manager’s gaffs. (His actions) “are not logical. Not acceptable; It’s time to fire people,” she said. “So Ms. Chick, Ms. Otto, Mr. Dockett and Ms. Beliger, I want you to hold our township manager hired him....(and) you rehired him. “

Aynes got a two-year contract renewal this spring on a 4/3 vote with only 45 seconds of discussion and no performance review. The Supervisor, Clerk and Treasurer voted no.

“We pay over $90k to our planners, over $120k to our manager....and we’re still having these issues. We need to....(search) for a new planner,” said Zelenock.

After the meeting, Zelenock addressed her issues with the planner and the deleted passages in the pot ordinance. “This is just another in a string of embarrassing, unnecessary mistakes. Multiple changes are made to documents; weeks later they come back to the Board and the changes we asked for are neither highlighted nor tracked. How could he have deleted pot shops downtown without informing us?”

Trustee Janet Chick moved to re-inserted the deleted ordinance language. Her motions passed 4/3 with Chockley, Manley and Beliger opposed....their positions unchanged despite the Nov. 5 vote of the residents.

Zelenock spoke to the Board’s frustration that Aynes and Lippens had failed to draft guidelines for the pot business applications. “You’ve known about this for weeks and we’ve got nothing,” she said.

The Board directed Aynes to draft application guidelines by the Nov. 26 meeting.

Residents Pack Meeting & Speak Up!

Barb Wutka asked that the Board prohibit pot businesses in Precinct 2 since voters there opposed pot while Precincts 1 & 3 favored it. (Later in the meeting, her suggestion was dismissed as unrealistic by a majority of the Board). (12:38)

Sam Iaquinto, owner of Mac’s Marina and supporter of pot businesses, said he was disappointed in Beliger, claiming she badmouths local businesses; grandstands at Board meetings and flip-flops in her capacity as Board Rep to the Park & Recreation Committee. “Tawn Beliger is a disappointment to the voters and citizens of Northfield Township,” he said. (14:35)

Mary Czech, a business woman who owns several properties downtown, supported local pot shops saying “we need growth....please honor the will of the people you swore to represent.” (20:40)

Her sentiments were echoed by residents Jon Gura (23:40), Dana Forrester, James Trunko, David Gordon, Wayne Davidson, Craig Warburton, Adam Olney, Todd Hawkmeyer, Coyote Windsong, Jerry Griffin and Marissa ?????

James Trunko made the point that Northfield Township residents have “now voted twice” to allow marijuana and urged the Board to act quickly.

Opponents who spoke of their disappointment and concerns were Monica Miller, Sharon Koenig, Margaret Riddell and Planning Commissioner Brad Cousino.