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Royal Oak Twp Supervisor refuses to answer question about impact of marijuana ballot proposal

Posted: 6:44 PM, May 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-19 11:44:53-04

ROYAL OAK TOWNSHIP, Michigan (WXYZ) — The ballot proposal exists because people who own a vacant car dealership on Eight Mile in Royal Oak Township want to build a marijuana campus. They have hired former State Senator Virgil Smith to be their spokesperson.

“They would like to turn this into a state of the art marijuana campus,” said Smith.

Smith says they could grow, process, and eventually dispense marijuana. The township board however voted to ban all marijuana businesses. To get around that the property owner gathered signatures and got Proposal 1 on the ballot. It asks voters to allow marijuana related businesses on parcels that are more than five acres and have been vacant at least five years.

The question that brings up is what parcels in the township right now meet that criteria. Seven Action News reached out to Royal Oak Township Supervisor Donna Squalls to ask for that information. She was not helpful. She responded by telling Seven Action News to contact the township’s attorney. We explained we were not asking for any opinions or statements of a legal nature. We simply wanted to know what parcels in the township at this point in time could potentially be impacted. Seven Action News could not reach the attorney by phone so we drove to the attorney’s office. There we were told that the attorney would do for us what the township leaders knew the attorney had done for others, and that is provide no comment.

“They won’t be all over the place,” said Virgil Smith.

Smith says that he only knows of two properties that are more than five acres and vacant for five years, the shuttered car dealership at Eight Mile and Meyers and the old George Washington Carver School. Across the street from that school we found neighbors are protesting Proposal 1.

“No drug dispensaries need to be in neighborhoods where people live,” said Donald Griffin, who lives across from the school and is concerned it could impact his neighborhood.

The people behind the proposal say while the school might fit the ballot language criteria, the goal is to redevelop the old car dealership.

Another thing WXYZ found strange is on the Royal Oak Township Web Page addressing election information, other ballot issues were mentioned, but not Proposal 1.

If you are a voter in Royal Oak Township you can expect to see the issue on your ballot as follows, “A proposed initiative ordinance to amend Article 8 of the Royal Oak Township ordinances to allow marihuana related businesses in Royal Oak township. This proposal would authorize an unlimited number of marihuana related businesses to locate on parcels of property within Royal Oak township that are larger than five acres and that have been continuously unoccupied for at least five years. Should this proposal be adopted?”