July 30, 2014 at 11:50 pm

Marijuana issues in Hazel Park, Oak Park top Oakland County ballot

Voters in two Oakland County cities will decide Tuesday if possession of marijuana for personal use should be decriminalized within their borders.

The issue is one of dozens, including public safety, library, parks and community center funds, on the ballot next week across the county.

In Oakland Park and Hazel Park, the Safer Michigan Coalition got the issue on the primary ballot. If approved, the proposals would permit people 21 or older to possess or transfer up to an ounce of marijuana on private property.

Supporters stress the initiative does not permit marijuana use in public.

“Times have radically changed,” said Tim Beck, campaign manager for the Safer Michigan Coalition initiatives in Oakland County. “What we’re talking about is private adult behavior on private property.”

The group has secured enough signatures to get the same initiative on the November ballot in Berkley, Pleasant Ridge and Huntington Woods.

Law enforcement officials say local regulations or ordinances are superseded by state and federal laws that still call for criminal prosecution of non-medical marijuana use.

“I guess people just have to be educated in terms of what the law actually says,” said Mike Pinkerton, deputy director of public safety in Oak Park. “For us, it won’t make a difference in how we police, because the law hasn’t changed.”

At the same time, the U.S, Justice Department has said it doesn’t go after small-time marijuana users.

“It’s been my contention all along, you either legalize it all or make it all illegal,” said Hazel Park Police Chief Martin Barner. “These piecemeal laws are confusing.”

Oak Park and Hazel Park would join a number of Michigan communities that have decriminalized small-time marijuana use: Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale in 2013; Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ypsilanti and Flint in 2012; and Kalamazoo in 2011.

Among other issues before Oakland County voters:

■North Oakland Transportation Authority: A .25-mill tax for 2014-18 in Addison, Orion and Oxford townships to support capital and operating expenses.

■Bloomfield Hills: A .39-mill renewal to contract for library services with Birmingham’s Baldwin Public Library.

■Clawson: A proposal to borrow $3.81 million over 20 years to update City and Grant parks. The tax would average 0.8 mills.

■Novi: Charter amendment to pay the mayor $6,500 per year and council members $4,500 per year, instead of paying on a per-meeting basis.

■Rochester Hills: A five-year, .2972-mill tax to raise about $1 million per year for road repairs. The tax would replace an expiring one for green spaces.

■Walled Lake: A .9846-mill renewal between 2015-24 for the Walled Lake City Library. An additional 3.95-mill tax for 2015-20 would fund operations of the public safety department.

■Addison Township: Police and fire/ambulance millages that would total 4.2374 mills and an additional .25-mill library operations tax between 2014-23.

■Bloomfield Township: Renewals of two public safety millages totaling 1.8277 mills for police and fire operations. Voters also face two renewals: a .2439-mill levy for operating the Bloomfield Township Senior Center and a .4839-mill renewal for the safety path program over five years.

■Brandon Township: Replacement of an expired tax to fund police operations with a 4.25-mill levy between 2014-18.

■Commerce Township: Renewal of a .3939-mill tax to improve parks and buy land for public green spaces, effective 2014-23.

■Highland Township: Renewal of two millages for police services, a .75-mill tax levied in 2014-17 and a 2.7805-mill tax levied from 2015-17.

■Independence Township: Renewal of a 2.95-mill levy for police services between 2014-17.

■Lyon Township: Two police and fire millages, a .8-mill tax and a 1.58-mill tax, between 2015-24. If approved, they would cost the average homeowner a combined $238 per year.

■Novi Township: An increase from 2.2555 mills to 2.5257 mills from 2014-33.

■Orion Township: Two fire millages — a 1-mill, one-year levy and a 1-mill, five-year levy, both starting in December 2014.

■Oxford Township: A bond and a millage for constructing and operating the township Community Center. The bond would borrow $20 million over 25 years, at an annual average rate of 1.52 mills. An additional .05-mill levy would raise about $34,000 a year between 2014-18. The township also seeks a .4518-mill tax from 2014-23 for the Oxford Township Public Library.

■Springfield Township: A .75-mill renwal from 2014-23 to raise about $420,000 a year to develop and maintain parks, trails and other recreational sites.

■Waterford Township: Millages for police (1.5 mills) and parks and recreation (.5 mills) between 2015-24.

■White Lake Township: Millages for police (4.1801 mills) and fire (1.9459mills ) between 2014-17and a library renewal of .4528 mills between 2014-21.

lrazzaq@detroitnews.com