THREE OAKS — The Three Oaks Township Board on Dec. 14 received input from township attorney David Petersen on language he thought should and should not be contained in a proposed ordinance aimed at giving the township oversight on marijuana-related businesses.

Petersen said that many stipulations are already covered by state statutes, but he urged Township Board members to carefully read each section of a draft copy of the ordinance so they could provide their input and have questions answered.

Petersen said the township could set standards such as what distance marijuana-related businesses must be from institutions such as schools, child care facilities, churches, libraries and parks.

The attorney said he felt violations of the new ordinance should be dealt with as civil infractions rather than misdemeanors, which would be more time consuming to try to prosecute and could result in violators being sentenced to jail time.

“I also feel that if you go the route of making violations misdemeanors it is unlikely that any judge will send someone to jail for a violation of this ordinance,” Petersen said during his thumbnail comments.

Township Supervisor George Mangold said that after board members had reviewed the proposed document the matter would be revisited during the next regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 11.

Marijuana-related businesses would likely be limited to operating in locations zoned C-Commercial or I-Industrial, and in a related agenda item there was discussion on a proposed purchase offer on the 70-acre Enterprise Park property located on the southeast corner of Schwark Road and U.S. 12 just west of the Village of Three Oaks, with 900 feet of frontage on the highway.

Realtor Robin Naeyaert from Exit Reality represented a party that had offered $480,000 to acquire the property, a figure well below the original asking price.

Clerk Liz Zabel suggested a price of $625,000 for the property as is, with no utilities, and a motion to approve that received unanimous support.

There was a counter-offer from Naeyaert of $575,000, but no action was taken, and the matter may be revisited during a future special meeting.

In another Dec. 14 matter, after Mangold reviewed road work projects in the township that will be done by the Berrien County Road Department in 2021 at an estimated cost to the township of $34,960, a motion of approval passed unanimously.

The road work projects will be: sealcoating a 1.05 mile section of Avery Road from Krueger to Elm Valley; sealcoating a 1.73 mile section of Phillips Road from U.S. 12 to Donner; and asphalt paving on South Walnut Court from Elm Valley to its end.

Mangold noted that the township’s Road Millage revenue for 2021 is estimated to be $35,472.

Also on the agenda, three reappointments to the Planning Commission received unanimous approval: township representative Chris Mitchell; vice chair Rich Fatter; and secretary Dan Versaw.

Mangold said that three members of the Board of Review and an alternate would be receiving proper state mandated training the next two months in the form of webinars.

Mangold asked his fellow Board members to take under consideration the re-establishment of a Fire Board.

“I would like any members to be open-minded and unbiased to both the fire department and the township,” he commented. “They could make recommendations to us, and I think it may also help (Fire Chief) Dave Flick. It would be a group he could go to. Maybe something could be worked out, and it’s something I can pursue with our attorney.”

Zabel suggested that if a new Fire Board becomes a reality it should have at least one or two retired firefighters serving on it.

Finally, after discussion pertaining to a request from Flick that, because the pandemic had caused the cancellation of the popular annual Three Oaks Christmas Parade, firefighters would come to the rescue to act as substitutes for Santa’s reindeer and provide him with a fire truck in lieu of his sleigh so he could travel around town on Dec. 20.

It was the consensus of Township Board members that it would be a jolly good idea.

After Santa Claus, the Grinch and Buddy the Elf had toured Three Oaks on Sunday afternoon, Flick gave credit to Gail Freehling for organizing the merriment.

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