By Scott Sullivan
The Saugatuck Township Board completed itself March 6, appointing Brenda Marcy new trustee.
Marcy, one of four applicants for the post vacated when former trustee Abby Bigford was named clerk effective Feb. 1, was sworn in and took a seat at the board’s monthly meeting.
She joined peers voting 5-0 to enact medical marijuana regulations, among other actions that night.
Following a newly-updated appointment policy, the board interviewed three trustee applicants: Marcy, Mary Fechtig and Laurie Goshorn. Joseph Novakoski, who also applied for the post, was not present.
Marcy, a 24-year township homeowner, is former president of the 1,000-plus member Chicago area College of DuPage employee group and managed a federal credit union with $5 million-plus in assets. She emphasized collaboration with neighbor communities, including on possible police services.
Fechtig is co-owner of the new Coast 236 restaurant in downtown Saugatuck, chief operating officer of two private Holland and a lawyer who at one point was city attorney for Terre Haute (pop. 60,000), Ind. She said her legal background could be an asset.
Goshorn, who ran unsuccessfully for trustee in 2012, last year was named to the parks commission. The former teacher expressed interest in climate change and “green” businesses as a source of new funding, jobs and policy.
All three candidates voiced support for nonmotorized trails and said new state marijuana laws merited ongoing study at the local level.
Supervisor Chris Roerig, Bigford, treasurer Jon Helmrich and trustee Stacy Aldrich praised all three candidates, said choosing between them was difficult and urged all to remain involved in township government.
Roerig, saying he was “very impressed” with Fechtig’s experience, nominated her but his motion died for lack of a second.
Aldrich then moved to appoint Marcy. Bigford seconded and all four voted yes. All board members will serve terms through November 2020.
Marcy’s first action was to join peers approving the planning commission’s Feb. 25 recommendation allowing medical marijuana to be grown on I-1 Industrial-zoned parcels by Special Approval Use (SAU).
The township’s 3.5 I-1 acres lie primarily east of I-196 and west of 63rd Street. Grow facilities will require a 500-foot buffer from lot lines of existing residential uses and public utility connection.
The board also OK’d medical marijuana provisioning centers by SAU in C-3 Commercial Interchange zones (near I-196 Exits 36 and 41) and safety compliance facilities in commercial and industrial zones. Recreational marijuana facilities would be banned within township limits.
Planners heard Nov. 26 from two entities proposing medical marijuana operations near Exit 36 south of Douglas.
Bruce Stewart of Studio Two Architects in Douglas, with Don Schipper and John Seros of Saugatuck, plan a professional, odor-controlled growing operation inside a secure building designed to house 2,000 plants. The owners expect to employ 10 people there, not including themselves.
Tammy Jacobi of Douglas also asked planners that night to reopen her medical marijuana provisioning center proposal in the commercial area.
Neighbor communities also continue to weigh how to handle medical and newly-state-legalized recreational marijuana.
The City of Saugatuck has banned all marijuana facilities pending further planning commission study of how the state regulates recreational uses approved by voters Nov. 6. City council has asked planners to submit an update and report by Dec. 30, 2019.
Douglas, which opted in last year on medical marijuana, is working with licensees to open provisioning centers in the former Bearco carwash, 435 Blue Star Hwy., and Old Farmhouse Antiques Store at 2918 Blue Star, both in the city’s C-2 General Commercial District. The city has yet to act on recreational marijuana.
Fennville allows some medical marijuana businesses, but in 2017 opted out on expanding those uses. Like its neighbors, the city has taken a wait-and-see approach to recreational regulation.