BALDWIN -- The Webber planning commission approved the site plan and special land use permit for Yates Dial-A-Ride to install a new communications tower at its recently meeting.

Larry Lewis, of Carter, Lewis and Associates, who is a consultant for Yates Dial-A-Ride, said the tower has been two years in the making and the new equipment will help the company better communicate with the bus drivers.

"Yates Dial-A-Ride is currently on the same tower with the road commission, and when the buses get out away from town, they lose communication," Lewis said. "They serve the entire county and they travel to all 15 townships to provide transport for those who do not have cars. They would like to get this new equipment so that they can communicate better with their drivers."

Lewis said they have had buses lose communication for 2-3 hours and were unable to call back to the base while out in some areas of the county.

"If we are going to grow, we will need that new equipment," he said. "Having that new tower will provide better coverage in several townships. It will hit all four corners of the county and will enable us to provide for the citizens of our communities more effectively."

Webber Township trustee and planning commission liaison Dan Cousar questioned whether approval would be recommended prior to them receiving approval for an easement from the county.

"They are in agreement that we need the easement," Lewis said. "Dial-A-Ride has an existing easement to the tower but is requesting an additional 25 feet from the county. We feel certain we will have the easement."

Lewis explained that even with the approvals from the planning commission, construction on the project would not begin for several weeks, because it has to wait on approvals from the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration.

"That will be a 30- to 45-day window for approval from the FCC and the FAA before construction can begin," Lewis said. "By the second quarter of 2021, it should be operational."

In addition to approving the site plan and special land use permit, the planning commission also approved waiving the requirement for a bond.

"If you are a private industry and build a tower in Michigan, the county can require you to place a bond so that if you walk away from the tower, the county is not stuck with the demolition costs," Lewis said.

"We have been on the road commission tower for many years, and this tower will be used for many years." he continued. "It won't be abandoned. We are asking that you not request a bond since we are a public agency."

Cousar made the motion to approve the site plan and the special land use permit, and waive the bond requirement, which was approved by the commission.

During the meeting, planners heard from CCG Holdings Group, LLC. owner Dan Reynolds regarding the expansion of their marijuana growing and cultivating facility in Webber Township.

Reynolds requested the commission set a date for review and approval of a site plan for the expansion of the business.

The plans include the establishment of an additional 17,000 square foot indoor grow facility that would include a processing facility.

"That additional property would create around 20 new jobs," Ryenolds said.

In addition, they are looking at establishing an outdoor cultivation facility on an additional 10 acres of land. The 12,000 square foot cultivation facility would grow, harvest and cut flower, which would then be taken to the processing facility and turned into oil to be sold as a concentrate.

"The facility would consist of raised beds with a trickle feed irrigation system surrounded by a six-foot fence, and would have 24-hour security, seven days a week," Reynolds said.

He added it would accommodate up to 2,000 plants and would employ around 50 additional workers.

"This type of facility creates the best product in the most cost-effective way," he said.

"We hope to get both projects underway next year and have the growing and processing facility up and running in early Spring, with the outdoor cultivation facility done by the end of the year," Reynolds said. "We are hoping to get in on the 2022 growing season."

A site plan review and public hearing was set for 6 p.m. on Jan. 11.