HOWELL – Due to a lack of quorum, the special Township Council meeting to discuss cannabis businesses and their zoning has once again been canceled.
With Deputy Mayor Thomas Russo announcing his resignation on short notice on November 3, the five-person council has now been reduced to four people. The November 9 special meeting and regular council meeting were both canceled due to only two council members being available to attend.
Since Russo’s resignation was effective on November 6, the municipal committee has no later than 15 days after the occurrence of the vacancy (November 21) to present to the governing body with the names of three nominees to fill the vacancy, Municipal Clerk Dwayne Harris said. He further explained that the governing body has 30 days from the vacancy (December 6) to appoint one of the nominees. If the governing body fails to make the appointment, the municipal committee has 15 days (December 21) to appoint a successor.
“A variation to this process would occur only if the municipal committee fails to submit the names of the nominees by November 21. In that case, within the next 15 days (December 6), the governing body can fill the vacancy by appointing a successor from the same political party,” Harris said.
Along with Russo now gone, it is believed Councilwomen Evelyn O’Donnell and Pamela Richmond were unable to attend the meeting, but this could not be confirmed. Richmond has not attended some previous meetings as she recently underwent back surgery.
The purpose of the special meeting was to further discuss how recreational cannabis or medical cannabis should be regulated, zoned and permitted for land use purposes in Howell Township.
On August 21, council members voted ‘yes’ to prohibit marijuana businesses in the town. However, they reassured residents that the ban would be temporary to give the council more time to properly zone and choose where the businesses should be in Howell.
The first special meeting on this matter was held on September 30 and Howell Police Chief Andrew Kudrick provided insight and spoke about the possible effects of allowing cannabis businesses on law enforcement and policing of the community.
Several residents also spoke at this meeting, many stating they believe the township should have cannabis businesses. They said allowing these businesses would not only make life easier for residents in Howell, but also help clear the stigma linked to the use of cannabis.
This discussion was limited to a one-hour meeting. A second special meeting to continue the discussion was scheduled for October 12 but was canceled. Now the rescheduled meeting has been canceled too. At this time, the township as not picked a new date for the special meeting.