City commission discusses marijuana, Broadway Central and potential festival risks
The Mount Pleasant City Commission took public comment on a reciprocity plan for local marijuana dispensaries, voted not to close Broadway Street for pedestrians during the summer months and approved a street closure for an electronic dance music festival planned for the fall at its March 28 meeting.
Marijuana reciprocity public comment
The commission listened to several residents who voiced in favor of reciprocity for the local marijuana dispensaries.
Reciprocity would allow for all five local dispensary retail stores to have the ability to distribute both medical and recreational marijuana with proper licensing. Mount Pleasant has three dispensaries that offer recreational marijuana - JARS Cannabis and two Lume Cannabis locations.
The medical dispensaries, Consano's and Pure Options have been advocating for recreational licensing for more than a year.
Many audience members including Consano's owners Deborah and Caleb Carey wanted the commission to wait to vote on the issue since City Planner Jacob Kain, who wrote the reciprocity plan, and City Commissioner Elizabeth Busch were absent from the meeting.
Mount Pleasant residents as well as residents from outside the city limits also spoke in favor of the reciprocity plan.
“Most people's worry when they say they should have a limit on these things is that it's going to increase the number of people that use cannabis in their town and they're worried about that,” Clare resident Stephanie Terpening said. “The same amount of people are going to use it no matter what — you have to get that idea out of your head.”
Terpening went on to say that having legal options that allow for additional revenue to the city is a better option than people having to resort to illegal options or private growers.
“Giving us the ability to operate in the adult-use market is the only way for us to survive,” Erik Canute, an employee at Pure Options said. “For years, we’ve provided a safe and comfortable environment for residents not only to obtain medical cannabis but to learn more about the products.”
A public hearing on this topic is planned for April 11.
Broadway Street summer closure
Several community members spoke out against closing down Broadway Street for the third summer since the start of the pandemic.
For the past two years the city has created a space for community members with "Broadway Central". The idea started in 2020 as a way to respond to social distancing measures for the COVID-19 pandemic.
A proposal would allow the closure to take place again this summer.
“I was very disappointed last year,” Commissioner George Ronan said. “There was just no coordination between businesses and it was often that the downtown was just completely empty.”
Syd and Judy Smith own the property on the corner of Broadway and University and spoke on behalf of the retailers currently occupying the buildings such as Pure Vitality and the incoming Sleepy Dog Bookstore. They said closing Broadway creates a "detrimental" parking issue for employees and visitors.
"In order to keep these people we got to give them parking," Syd Smith said. "Closing the street confuses residents and out-of-town visitors."
Rich Swindelhurst, owner of Midori Sushi and Martini Lounge, also voiced opposition to the street closure.
"For necessity, this was a rushed together idea when COVID struck to be able to promote the restaurants and we definitely appreciated any attempts that could be done," Swindelhurst said. "We now have had it closed for two summers and by midsummer last year there was a lot of frustration."
While business owners voiced concern, Christina Sheller, a Mount Pleasant citizen highlighted how much she enjoyed the space to walk around and eat outside. The street closure allowed her to meet her friends and walk around the downtown area with ease.
“I ended up going downtown way more than I ever did in the past these last two summers,” she said. “There’s a lot you can work with that it shouldn't just be scrapped because of the businesses complaining.”
The motion to approve the Broadway Street closure ended up failing 4-2.
EDM festival street closure
The city received a special event application for September 17, 2022. The event proposed is an electronic dance music festival that would host 2,000 attendees.
The desired location is Court Street, and the organizer plans to fence the perimeter around the event. The commission's vote would be for the road closure, and if there are certain conditions the festival has to abide by.
The event's purpose is to gather students from CMU and surrounding communities to downtown Mount Pleasant.
Public Safety Director and Police Chief Paul Lauria advised the commission that there will likely be noise complaints coming from surrounding residential areas and that the Mount Pleasant Police Department will work with both the event coordinators and residents to ensure the concert goes smoothly.
"There's going to have to be a huge outreach all the way to Pickard telling people from 8 p.m. to midnight, this is what you can expect," Lauria said
The commission approved the motion 5-1.
Watch the entire commission meeting on the city's Youtube Channel.