2017-10-01 / News

Montrose planning commission getting closer to medical marijuana ordinance

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

CITY OF MONTROSE – The Montrose City Planning Commission held a special meeting Thursday, Sept. 28, for the purpose of making progress on the medical marijuana ordinance before the state begins issuing licenses in December.

Chairman Todd Pangle was absent due to illness. Vice chair Frank Taylor conducted the meeting.

During the opening public comments, Lisa Climie asked the commission when the ordinance was going to get rolling. She commented that the Village of Chesaning put their medical marijuana ordinance together in a matter of months.

Taylor responded, “We’ve been working on this since last December. We try to look at unintended consequences. We don’t want that.”

Montrose city mayor Colleen Brown, who was sitting in the audience, told the planning commission she had reached out to a lawyer to discuss the possibility of setting up a special assessment district for medical marijuana production operations to ensure that the city doesn’t incur any costs for infrastructure upgrades, like water, sewer, and others.

Taylor said the planning commission had received a sample of the city of Lansing’s medical marijuana ordinance. The planning commission has had time to review it since its last meeting.

Montrose city attorney Otis Stout said, “This city ordinance from Lansing is a model ordinance for medical marijuana.” He commented he likes the Lansing ordinance and if the Montrose city council would like to adopt it, he could see making a few changes.

For instance, the consensus has been Montrose would only allow four types of licenses – grow operations, processing centers, secured transport and security. The city does not want to issue licenses for dispensaries.

Climie asked, “So the dispensaries in town would have to shut down?” Taylor confirmed it. Stout proposed adding a definitions section to the Lansing ordinance, “otherwise it’s a model ordinance,” he said. He pointed out Lansing decided to refund half of the application fee for those whose applications are turned down.

“It’s still uncertain to know what kind of impact it would have on the community, whether it’s odors or [what]? The key question is, are we as a community willing to opt in,” Stout said.

Councilman Mark Richard, who sits on the planning commission, said, “I talked with the department director of LARA (Michigan Department of Licensing And Regulatory Affairs).” He explained once the city gives a medical marijuana group a permit, they can go to the state and it’s up to the state (LARA) to give them the license. “She confirmed that if [the medical marijuana group doesn’t] have approval from the community, they can’t get [the license]. If they operate without a permit, the community can shut them down.”

Mayor Brown commented, “We want them to renew with the city, before they go to the state. I want them to start the renewal process 90 days before they renew with the state. If [they’re] going to renew, we want a say on whether [they] get to renew.”

After listening to the planning commission’s discussion, she said, “So what I’m hearing is you’re looking to take the Lansing ordinance and tweak it into ours. Make sure our recommendations are included.”

Taylor said, “We planned on not allowing dispensaries.”

Otis said, “I’m not asking for a vote, but is the consensus of the board to send this [Lansing ordinance] to the council for approval?”

Richard responded, “That’s what I want to see happen.”

Taylor clarified they decided on a maximum number of the licenses to allow within the city of Montrose – a maximum of seven grow operations, seven processing operations, two safety compliance centers and two secure transport companies.

“And no one can have more than one of any type of license or more than two of the licenses total,” Taylor said.

Commissioner Anthony Brown asked if they would be changing the fines.

Taylor said, “This board has never had the ability to set a fine.”

Commissioner Brown said, “For Lansing, these [fines] are really not high.”

Richard said, “Their surety bond is only $50,000.”

Taylor responded, “I threw out $1 million. No one knows, if the operation goes abandoned, how much it would cost to cleanup.”

Richard said, “Pesticides and stuff.”

Mayor Brown commented the city council will want higher fines.

Richard wants to make sure the city’s ordinance states that operations must comply with all MIOSHA health and safety regulations.

Taylor wants to make sure the ordinance states that the fines include plus cost, to ensure the cost of police, fire and so forth are covered by the medical marijuana operations.

The planning commission agreed to have Stout go through the 39-page Lansing ordinance and note the adjustments discussed. City manager Neil Rankin will make the actual changes in time for the planning commission’s Oct. 12 meeting.

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