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Posted on Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Officials say intense marijuana smell emanating from home violates zoning

By Tom Perkins

For months, a flag bearing a marijuana leaf flew above Ypsilanti Township resident Michael Engle’s home.

And for months, neighbors have complained about the “intense” marijuana odor being pumped from his home.

Officials aren't certain how much marijuana Engle is growing in the Ypsilanti Township residence or whether he is processing it, but officials do know neighbors are fed up with the strong odor they say has made them physically sick and prevents them from opening their windows.


Neighbors have complained that the smell of marijuana coming from 1397 Crestwood St.

Tom Perkins | For

Now, the township is asking a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge to order Engle to stop the emissions, which officials say is especially prevalent between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Mike Radzik, director of Ypsilanti Township’s office of community standards, stressed that the case has nothing to do with a violation of the state’s medical marijuana laws. He said the case is about the violation of the township’s zoning code relating to odors.

The zoning ordinance states that the "creation of offensive odors shall be prohibited" in any zone. Radzik said the odor coming out of the home constitutes an offensive order, and a district court judge agreed.

Neighbors first began complaining earlier this year and Engle was cited for the violation along with the home’s owner, Deborah Klochubar. On May 8, 14-B District Court Judge Charles Pope ordered Engle and Klobuchar to abate the odor.

Officials say that order has gone ignored and neighbors still are complaining.

Radzik said Ypsilanti Township and law enforcement officials aren’t sure what is causing such a strong smell, but he said an exhaust vent in the basement is in place and pumping air out of the home.

“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,” he said. “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.” could not reach Engle for comment. Neighbors also declined to speak to a reporter.

The medical marijuana state law has been widely debated since it was approved by voters in 2008. Ypsilanti Township, like many other municipalities, put in zoning laws to regulate where medical marijuana is grown.

According to state law, a person with a medical marijuana patient’s card can grow up to 12 plants for their personal use. Ypsilanti Township ordinance allows residents to grow their personal plants in residential zones.

But state law says registered caregivers can grow up to 72 plants for up to five patients and their own personal use. Ypsilanti Township's zoning ordinance doesn’t permit caregivers to operate in residential zones.

Pope required Engle to let a township ordinance inspector to see Engle’s grow operation to determine if there are less than the 12 plants allowed in a residential zone.

Radzik said a code inspector went to the home and was turned away before an attorney representing Engle said a mistake was made and the inspector could go back to the home. Enlge did not allow photography and permitted only one inspector. Radzik said conditions with zoning ordinance inspections are unusual.

When the inspector went into the home, he found Engle had placed black plastic over all the entryways, creating a small, dark hallway. Radzik said Engle led the inspector down the hallway and into a basement where the inspector was shown 10 medical marijuana plants.

But Radzik said officials don’t know if there are more plants in the house and have no idea what was behind the plastic.

Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department deputies have made contact with Engle on several occasions and forwarded information to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office. But the prosecutor’s office declined to give authorities a search warrant or pursue charges because of insufficient evidence that any state law was being broken, Radzik said.

But Radzik underscored that the state 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 - but we’re trying to deal with the offensive order,” he said.


Gersh Avery

Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

I just came from the house. There is zero odor. None. I walked all the way around the house. Next to the house. Not from the sidewalk. There is no odor at all. Someone is lying.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

Maybe he got rid of the plants after this article was published, you ever think of that?


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 1:44 a.m.

I like the smell :-)

Gersh Avery

Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 12:55 a.m.

This news paper has recklessly endangered this patient. They published the location. Doing so, I believe, the paper has exposed itself to any damages that might result.

Ann English

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 11:24 p.m.

I wonder if someday a neighbor will become chemically poisoned from whatever comprises this odor. Someone chemically poisoned could lose consciousness from wind-blown lighter fluid coming from a neighbor's barbecue. Probably all of us notice the interchangeable use of "odor" and "order" in this article. If the journalists ever wrote "deorderant," they deserve a more severe reprimand for it than for the misspellings here.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

I read quite often, but actually just created an account specifically so that I could comment on this article. I agree with previous posters that posting this persons address and the photo of the home is quite shameful. No, I do not know these people and I still feel this is irresponsible reporting. What good does having the address and photo do for the story? Other than, as previous posters have mentioned, to alert criminals and burglars to a potential hit for them? You may say "good, then maybe the smell will be gone" etc. But it is a number of other things that could happen in a potential robbery (i.e. someone getting hurt/ stray bullets coming thru my wall while my babies sleep) that is the problem. Why couldn't the article simply refer to "an Ypsilanti Twp home", or by neighborhood. Just so happens that this IS my neighborhood, and I do not appreciate the invitation to burglars. If the owner of this house is home so they're unable to break in there, what's stopping them from coming to my street?

Angry Moderate

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 10:37 p.m.

Why would seeing a picture of a house on the news, knowing that it's being closely watched by authorities and neighbors, make it more likely to be broken into? Everyone obviously already knows that there is weed there, because of the smell and the marijuana leaf flag.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

When publishes the restaurant health inspections the name and address of the restaurant is given. does not say "A restaurant in the 3000 block of W. Stadium had three critical violations..." Why should the house at 1397 Crestwood St. be exempt from this type of reporting if it is emitting offensive fumes?


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 3:34 a.m.

its not a public domain that anyone can enter and buy something at whim


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 10:12 p.m.

"But they are providing goods to the public..." So is the medical marijuana operation. From other comments here this is a crime ridden area. If busting med-marijuana ops were a high priority the police would have raided him a long time ago. Apparently, Engle's biggest concern now is the criminal element. He should have been a good neighbor and stayed under the radar. No sympathy from me after he gets robbed.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 8:04 p.m.

But they are providing goods to the public, and if there are such violations they could impact the health of anyone who consumes those goods. I suppose you could argue that this smell supposedly effects health, BUT, the neighbors obviously are already well aware so who are they warning? I sincerely doubt this article is to tell people "stay away from Crestwood, or the marijuana fumes could be harmful to your health". And the smell of marijuana is "normal" for marijuana, improperly stored food is not "normal" for a restaurant. Bad choice of words I know, but you get my point.

Julie Baker

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

Comments containing unsubstantiated allegations have been removed.


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 3:32 a.m.

yea Julie wont talk about being wrong showing the house to create a stir


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 2:59 a.m.

This whole article is based on unsubstantiated allegations.


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 2:49 a.m.

how about the photo of the house belonging to the so-far-completely-innocent person that you've just splattered all across the web? has that been removed?

Chaely Chartier

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

Sharing his full name, address & a picture of his house is shameful. I live VERY near to this house & it's already a very crime ridden neighborhood. This puts us all at an increased risk of home invasions. Have some journalistic integrity.

Angry Moderate

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 10:35 p.m.

How does this put everyone in the neighborhood at increased risk of home invasions?


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 7 p.m.

Okay my comments were removed but yet like others had said you posted the guys name, address and a pic of his house Lol. Anyways I would be glad to talk to a reporter.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 6:41 p.m.

if it ain't one thing, it's another. Hater's going to hate.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

How bout the stench of "real" toxic fumes in my AA Burns Park neighborhood. Where do I complain about that? The chemical smell is gagging and obviously toxic. Tracking it, I find it emanates from one of the small industries in the Rosewood, Jewett Rd area near South Industrial, on most Tuesdays and Wednesdays...which unbelievably is surrounded by residential homes! There's a "real" story for you to investigate!!

laura wolf

Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 2:14 a.m.

oh, so now you are picking on my neighborhood. if you are really in burnspark how are you smelling "fumes" from way over in the s. industrial area? i live in the area and walk all over the neighborhood and have never smelled anything like that. maybe some wonderful odors from roos roast or fraisers...

Ron Granger

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

Spot on. I frequently smell an auto-body shop in that area. They emit a lot of solvent. A quick google search turns up the name of an auto body operation there.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

I cannot believe you gave this man's address and a picture of his house. This man has broken no law! If this man subsequently gets robbed Ann should face civil penalties and criminal penalties too if he is harmed.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 6:24 p.m.

Ever heard of freedom of speech? You can't arrest reporters for publishing a photograph of a house. Sheesh.


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

Almost guaranteed he will get his home broken into. This is big business and there are lots of low lifes who want his pot.

music to my ear

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

and we commenting need to think before we write something ? I agree drop the ball too fast on this article.

Dutch Thomas

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

There was never any proof that this home created the odor and it is not now creating any odor. This is an attack by a desperate township that wasted a lot of tax payer money on an ordinance they cannot enforce so they attack patients via a smear campaign in the press.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

Hi Dutch- The information included was provided by township officials. As noted in the article neighbors declined to speak and the residents were unavailable to comment. We will updated as more details become available. If you would like to contact Tom directly with any information you would like to add please email us at Thank you.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

"Neighbors also declined to speak to a reporter." These neighbors are willing to call and complain to several agencies yet won't speak with a reporter? Nothing worse than people that will raise a stink over this yet still want to remain completely anonymous! Mr. Engle allowed inspections and went beyond the letter of law to appease this complaint. How about reporting the neighbors names and addresses also?


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

This is becoming the American way. Turn in your neighbor and hide. I'm sure the pot farmer has a pretty good idea who turned him in.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

Maybe they are afraid of nasty retaliation?

Dutch Thomas

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

No one even attempted to contact the subjects of this article. There are several lies in this article.

Dutch Thomas

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

There are air scrubbers and there is no odor from that home and compliance is complete with state law and ordinances including the Michigan Meadow like in front of the Ann Arbor YMCA. Organic Garden in back too


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

Not that I disagree with what you're saying, you sound like you know what you're talking about, but if you are around the plants a lot you can get desensitized to the smell and your nose can betray you to how much they really smell. But like I said I agree with you, sounds like the guy (you?) is having neighbor issues and this is how they are trying to get at him.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

Thankfully it's not a manure farm.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

Good point

music to my ear

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

hey whats wrong with that smell, my hubby says aahh!!! thats country


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

Where is the EPA?


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

Bothering allof the legitimate businesses, especially those with any money to pay fines with.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

"But Radzik said officials don't know if there are more plants in the house and have no idea what was behind the plastic." I bet I could guess what's behind the plastic. Leave the guy alone; it's just marijuana for sick people...........

Atticus F.

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

What if I had neighbors from Indonisia, and I happened to find the smell of their food offensive(which I dont)... Answer this question, HONESTLY; Does the local township have the right to invade my neighbors home because they cook food from Indonisia, or India, or Laos? My answer would be no, they do not have the right to descriminate against people of a certain ethnicity because others dont like the smell of their food... Just as they do not have the right to descriminate against sick people, or people with a medical condition. I think this theory is the basis for a huge descrimination lawsuit against the township of ypsilanti. If it were me, I would also file a lawsuit against the neighbors as well.

Gersh Avery

Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 6:14 a.m.

Yes .. I agree. Even more so when there is an active carbon filter in place that completely eliminates every bit of odor. I just came from the house. Someone is lying. There is no smell.

Angry Moderate

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 10:33 p.m.

To clarify, you can cook whatever food you want ON YOUR OWN PROPERTY. When the smell spreads to your neighbor's property, you have exceeded your boundaries. Your right to swing your fist only extends until hit someone else's nose.

Angry Moderate

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

Yes, actually. Neither being from Indonesia nor having a medical marijuana card give one an exemption from the township nuisance ordinances.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

Could not have said it better

Robert Granville

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

This is pathetic. Get a carbon filter and give your neighbors some peace. Totally un-dude. Medical marijuana patients have a reputation for being very nice neighbors. They love to cook, they're generous, they don't throw loud drunken parties, they keep to themselves and they're non-confrontational almost to a fault. Don't ruin it.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

You and others are automatically assuming that the complaint is valid and as described. Given the circumstances and description of the scenario, I see a lot of room to question this.

Atticus F.

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

"and they're non-confrontational almost to a fault"... Thats because they're afraid. This gentleman is not.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

Probably just a skunk living under his porch. A fool's fool regardless.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

Or skunk weed?


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

"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," he said.-- Where is the data or the evidence that the exhaust is harmful? - How does it affect the neighbor's quality of life? Why wasn't this official asked for the proof after making such assertions? "Ypsilanti Township's zoning ordinance doesn't permit caregivers to operate in residential zones." Ypsilanti Township's ordinance, and all other ordinances, around the state, that create more restrictive and prohibitive conditions, than what the state law allows for individuals to do, are now null and void according to a recent ruling in the Court of Appeals. Perhaps, not knowing of this is the immediate problem- "But Radzik underscored that the state law is not the township's concern in this case." I recommend that Radzik and others who are not aware, read the COA decision concerning John Ter Beek suing the City of Wyoming. The case was about the illegal "Federal ban" strategy tried by some local governments, but the decision by the COA Judges went on to specifically include all instances when the City or Townships are superseding state law. I would hope that all involved work to be respectful to the rights of the caregiver and homeowner. If it is true that a neighbor is really inconvienenced, somehow, a combination of education for the neighbor and, if necessary, some effort by the caregiver to try and limit the odor, which if it is cannabis, is harmless and pleasant for many. Does this really warrant the allocation of sparse resources by police and the courts to resolve?


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

8:50 AM on 9/4/2012 "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," And we know this "for sure" because the neighbor said so. I haven't smelled it therefore in my mind it is not "for sure"

Dutch Thomas

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

There is no odor. A Neighbor attempted to extort cannabis and is the source of the bogus complaints. There is no legal action other than what the homeowner may do in response to this governmental harassment.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

I agree with you. I honestly don't see how the aroma can be that bothersome or offensive, especially since our sense of smell shuts down when we're sleeping, which I'm guessing most people do sleep during the hours between 10pm and 6am. And I can certainly think of a whole lot worse smells to complain about! Our next door neighbors have a few acres and animals of all sorts that emit unpleasant odors, not to mention all the farmland surrounding our home which gets "fertilized" with manure. So where do one persons rights become more important than another persons? If this man is growing and using medical marijuana legally, should he really have to worry about the smell just because one or two of his neighbors don't like it? It's not hurting anyone and it could be helping numerous people who need it for medical reasons. I have no sympathy for people who live in a close housing community but want the right to act as though they're on an island with nothing and nobody disturbing them.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

Bunny- you make a good point. However, I am first questioning the legitimacy of the complaints, I am also asking for assertions by the official to be substantiated, and I am questioning the methods and costs, currently being pursued, as being the most effective. While I do have a bias because I have, unfortunately witnessed, too many innocent people having their rights and protections ignored concerning medical marijuana- these are valid questions and concerns, in my opinion.

Atticus F.

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

And what if my neighbor baked cakes or bread everyday, and that smell was offensive to me?... Would you still say it was acceptable to send someone to inspect my home, bunny?... I didn't think so.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

Jamie, this isn't about whether someone could legally say that the smell from marijuana is harmful. This is about an intrusive smell omiting from his home that is irritating his neighbors continuously, that is for a length of time. It is no different than if it were paint, cleaning chemicals, sulphuric acid or cow poop, a smell emiting day after day from the home next door is the problem. Look at the article more objectively.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

So getting his energy usage records will tell you how much wattage he's using to grow. Knowing wattage can easily tell you if he's over his legal limit.....and I'm pretty sure he's aware of this. I wouldn't put it past Ypsi to call the feds in on this and let them handle it.'re not stinking up an entire neighborhood with 10 or 12 plants.......but if you are.....I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to know what strain and what you're feeding them on flower.....

Atticus F.

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

I agree that this assertion is dead wrong. Someone could in theory, have 12 plants under 1x1000 watt light, or they could have 12 plants under 4x1000watt lights. Either way, they would not be violating the local zoning ordinance, or state law. This comment is typical of the know-it-all, big ego comments that I see on the medical marijuana threads... Just another person who is unable to think outside the box, and assumes that their short sighted, narrow mind knows all the answers.

Robert Granville

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

This is just patently false. Wattage will not tell you if someone is over their limit.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

That's an over simplification dude. Ever heard of LED's? SOG?


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 11:21 a.m.

Awesome! Now really bad guys know where to pull a home invasion. Nice job identifying the address and home of someone who, it appears unless otherwise proven, is in compliance with the current law.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

A2 citizen- what makes you believe that there ever was a valid problem, or that if there was an actual basis for complaint, that it wasn't addressed in May? There is no mention of a recent complaint in the article.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

Nothing has to be proven in order to file a complaint. If Engle did not want to be identified he should have corrected the problem back in May. Now the police are probably saying, "Hey, give the bad guys a freebie".


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

Being "in compliance with the law" has ZERO bearing on whether or not some unscrupulous folk will kick your door down and rob you.... Criminals don't tend to care if you're following the law or fact the only criminals that care if you're following the law are LAWNET...

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 10:36 a.m.

he just needs an ozone generator.

Gersh Avery

Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 6:27 a.m.

He already has a carbon filter in place. I just came from there. There is no odor at all. None. Someone lied.

Robert Granville

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

No... he needs a carbon filter. Ozone generators need to be phased out for obvious reasons.

Kelly Reynolds

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 10:30 a.m.

"And for months, neighbors have complained about the "intense" marijuana odor being pumped from his home. [ Fresh - Local - Organic- Shop Arbor Farms ]" I always wondered why Arbor Farms was so popular! :)


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 3:21 a.m.

Your making no sense.they have nothing to do with it.Good people work there.Allmost could be considered libel

tom swift jr.

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 10:23 a.m.

This shall be interesting as it unfolds. If, in fact, this individual is violation the medical marijuana laws, or is actually growing for some other purpose that needs to be determined and dealt with. I hope, however, this incident isn't used by the press and/or the opponents of the law as a data point as to why we shouldn't allow folks to grow in accordance with the original letter and intent of the law.