Oxford Village makes declaration before marijuana hearing
By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
The Oxford Village Council unanimously passed a resolution declaring a local state of emergency, “due to COVID-19 case spikes,” at a special meeting Wednesday, April 21.
The declaration will allow the council to meet remotely for the marijuana ordinance public hearing next month, which is expected to draw a large audience.
Because of the pandemic, an amendment to the Michigan Open Meetings Act allowed municipal bodies to meet virtually until March 31, 2021. Another recent amendment allows public bodies to continue meeting virtually if a local emergency is declared, when there is a threat of widespread injury or loss of life.
The village resolution cites the recent surge in confirmed COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Michigan and Oakland County, which may be attributed to the presence of COVID variants. The declaration is based on “a desire to protect the members of the public, as well as employees and board and committee members, from continued exposure by continuing the ability to hold virtual meetings.”
The council may take additional measures to limit further exposure, including but not limited to the continued closure of public facilities, the imposition of mask requirements in public buildings and the minimum six-foot social distancing requirements; the postponement of public meetings and public hearings, the continuation of electronic or virtual meetings where ever possible and the alternative methods for public comment for any such virtual meeting.
The council will revisit the emergency declaration “at or before its May 11, 2021 Village Council meeting, and SHALL DETERMINE if the conditions have sufficiently changed to require all board and committee meetings be held in person,” according to the resolution.
The public hearing and first reading of the proposed Adult Use Recreational Marijuana Facilities ordinance are scheduled for the May 11 meeting at 7 p.m. Meeting access code, how to participate remotely, and information regarding meeting in person will be available on at TheVillageOfOxford.org and will be published on the agenda header.
The ordinance would allow marijuana establishments to be licensed and operate in the village’s I-1 Industrial District. The latest draft eliminates the “marijuana grower” category of business, due to environmental concerns, and a lack of potential tax revenue. The remaining categories of marijuana microbusiness, processor, retailer, safety compliance facility and secure transporter are still permitted. Microbusinesses are still permitted to grow up to 150 plants.
The “mixed-use facility” prohibition was also deleted, meaning marijuana facilities can operate on the same land alongside other permitted I-1 Industrial uses.
A full copy of the proposed ordinance is available for review on the website or from the Village of Oxford Clerk’s office during regular business hours. Public wishing to comment on proposed ordinance can do so in writing by mail addressed to: Village of Oxford Clerk, P.O. Box 94, Oxford, Michigan, or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.