|Neighbors have complained that the smell of marijuana coming from 1397 Crestwood Street in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan|
A flag bearing a marijuana leaf flew for months above the Michigan home of Michael Engle. And for almost that entire time, Engle’s neighbors have been complaining about the “intense” odor of cannabis emanating from his home in Ypsilanti Township.
City officials said they aren’t sure how much marijuana Engle is growing in his home, or whether he’s processing it, but neighbors said they are fed up with the strong cannabis odor, which they claim has made them physically sick and prevents them from opening their windows, reports Tom Perkins at AnnArbor.com.
Township officials are asking a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge to order Engle to stop the odor, which they claim is “especially prevalent” between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
|Ypsilanti Township Director of Community Standards Mike Radzik: “The only thing we know for sure is there is a harmful odor emission”|
The case has nothing to do with violating Michigan’s medical marijuana laws, stressed Mike Radzik, director of Ypsilanti Township’s office of community standards. Radzik said the case is all about violating the township’s zoning code on odors.
According to the zoning ordinance, the “creation of offensive odors shall be prohibited” in any zone. Radzik claims the marijuana smell emanating from Engle’s home is just such an “offensive odor,” and a district court judge agreed.
Neighbors first began kvetching about the smell earlier this year, at which point Engle was written up for the violation along with the home’s owner, Deborah Klochubar. District Court Judge Charles Pope on May 8 ordered Engle and Klochubar to do something about the odor.
Officials claim that court order was ignored, and neighbors are still bitching.
Law enforcement officers “aren’t sure” what is causing such a strong smell, according to Radzik, but he said an exhaust vent in the basement is pumping air out.
“The only thing we know for sure is there is a harmful odor emission, primarily at night, and the quality of the neighbors’ life is severely impacted,” Radzik claimed. “The district court order to cease those emissions has been ignored, so we’re left with no alternative other than to ask the circuit court to try to help us put an end to this.
Judge Pope required Engle to let a township ordinance inspector take a look at the marijuana grow operation to make sure the plant count was indeed fewer than 12, the maximum allowed in a residential zone.
When a code inspector went to Engle’s home, he was at first turned away, according to Radzik, before a lawyer representing Engle said a mistake was initially made and the inspector could go back to the home. Engle did not allow photos to be taken and permitted only one inspector. According to Radzik, placing such conditions on zoning ordinance inspections is unusual.
When the inspector entered the home, he found Engle had put black plastic over all entryways, creating a small, dark hallway. Engle led the inspector down the hallway and into a basement, where the inspector was shown 10 medical marijuana plants.
Radzik said officials have no idea what was behind the plastic, and aren’t’ sure if there are more marijuana plants in the house.
Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department deputies have contacted Engle on “several occasions” and forwarded information to the county prosecutor’s office. But the prosecutor declined to give authorities a search warrant or pursue chareges, because of insufficient evidence that any state law is being broken, Radzik said.
Radzik, however, underscored that the Michigan medical marijuana law is not the township’s concern in this case.
“We don’t know what the situation is at this house — I won’t speculate,” Radzik said. “But we’re trying to deal with the offensive odor.”