City Commission holds discussion on recreational marijuana at Sept. 9 meeting


Mount Pleasant City Commission discusses a recreational marijuana ordinance Sept. 9 at City Hall. 

Mount Pleasant City Commissioners went back and forth for around 40 minutes regarding the city’s proposed recreational marijuana ordinance during the Sept. 9 City Commission meeting.

The nearly 2-hour meeting contained debates between commissioners on various aspects of the marijuana ordinance, including the criteria for approving marijuana retailers, how many retailers there should be and concerns about a possible loophole in the ordinance regarding residency in Mount Pleasant.

Many amendments to the ordinance were proposed during the meeting, mostly made by Vice Mayor Lori Gillis. Of the three she proposed, one was passed by the commission in a 6-1 vote. This amendment was to cover a loophole Gillis said she saw in the ordinance’s criteria.

In the ordinance, commissioners laid out a set of criteria categories for a marijuana establishment selection committee. Each of these categories are scored by points that add up to 100. The committee will choose marijuana retailer applicants based on point totals. One of the criteria is based on whether the business owner is a Mount Pleasant resident. However, Gillis said there was a flaw with this.

She said it’s easy for a potential recreational marijuana retailers outside of Mount Pleasant to move in or become a resident very shortly before the selection process begins. 

“Anybody can come in and move here and set up residency or pretend they have an apartment here and claim local residency,” Gillis said.

Her amendment specified that potential business owners should have lived in Mount Pleasant for at least a year prior to the committee selection. She also wanted to give more preference to the medical marijuana retailers already approved to open in Mount Pleasant.

The other two amendments to the ordinance proposed by Gillis involved limiting the number of marijuana retailers in Mount Pleasant to six and to include at least two commissioners on the selection committee. Both amendments failed.

Other business

· Comissioners passed a city ordinance 5-2 regarding regulations for parking lot reconstruction. Commissioners Petro Tolas and Gillis voting against it. During a public hearing for this ordinance, business owner Richard Swindlehorst said the regulations from this ordinance will deter businesses from reconstructing their parking lots. He said if business owners are required to put in storm retention centers, many won’t fix the lots due to the cost. Mount Pleasant City Manager Nancy Ridley said regular maintenance would still be allowed under the ordinance, and putting in retention centers would only apply for businesses who want to fully reconstruct their lots under specific circumstances.

· Ridley introduced a draft for the proposed 2020 Mount Pleasant operating budget. She said the commissioners will be discussing the draft during the next commission meeting Sept. 23. The commission unanimously voted to set a public hearing for the budget proposal on Nov. 11.

· The commission also received Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe funding requests from various city departments. Ridley said the tribe distributes some of its gaming revenues from slot machines twice a year for city departments to make improvements. The requests that the commission wants to prioritize will be discussed at the next meeting.