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Planning Commission helps city with blight, discusses marijuana


Ian Minielly/Daily Globe

JOHN TURKAL addresses the crowd Wednesday evening during the Bessemer Planning Commission meeting by pointing out where he would like to see industrial scale marijuana contained. Turkal expressed an interest, which most of the board and audience appeared to agree with, that keeping the industrial marijuana operations in the light and heavy industrial areas shown in light and dark purple on the southwest edge of the map was most desirable. Keeping the marijuana in the industrial park would slowly remove the small-time operations explained Turkal as they would not be able to compete with the large operations.


Bessemer - The Bessemer Planning Commission came together Wednesday evening and took care of business and the commission and audience turned around and went home, without any hard feelings being witnessed on either end.

Charly Loper, city manager, informed the commission she would like the commission to either become a blight committee or join forces with the city counsel to form a blight committee that can enforce a more tactical blight code. The current code, according to Loper, in insufficient and risks tying the city up in expensive legal fees. By adopting a different international standard, the city will save money and be able to act in a more timely manner to address blighted structures.

Rob Coleman said he, "Had no problem with the planning commission handling the blighted structures, (but) if it becomes a problem for the commission we can change it in the future." Loper is going to deliver a copy of the old ordinance to the commission to compare with the international standard.

Under the current method of blight control, the city issues a letter, a second letter, and then can begin court proceedings, but the land owners have no incentive to repair the property according to Loper. Under the new system, a letter would be issued, leaving the land owner 10 days to respond, 30 if the problem is an automobile. If the issue is not resolved or a plan not developed to satisfy the city that will resolve the plan a second letter and fine are issued. If after the second letter and fine nothing is done, the city will move against the property with additional fines.

The commission decided to begin progress towards making Bessemer a redevelopment ready community, which will open up Michigan Economic Development Grants to the city. Under new requirements by the MEDC, a city must be either redevelopment ready or making progress, which is loosely defined, towards redevelopment, for access to MEDC grant money according to Loper.

The commission tabled until further notice making their recommendation to the city council on what they will recommend regarding the new Medical Marijuana law. John Turkal expressed clear sentiment, that no one in attendance disagreed with, "Not downtown, downtown Bessemer should be a family friendly environment."

The audience, those for medical marijuana and those against, appeared in agreement the large scale, industrial growing marijuana operations do not belong in downtown Bessemer. Turkal moved to a map of the city and pointed out the industrial zone, to the south and west of Bessemer, and made his case that this is the only location he will recommend for industrial growth, because right now, there is no control and the noxious odor of marijuana in residential areas is unwelcome.

Turkal said, "The city has two options: 1. Today, under the current rules, marijuana can be grown anywhere in Bessemer and no one can do anything about it. 2. Embrace the new law and authorize the light and heavy industrial park large scale grow operations, with carbon filtration systems to capture the smell."

Turkal expressed how big box stores push out smaller stores and thinks allowing the large scale medical grow operations in the industrial park will undercut the price so much the small scale operations smelling up town will slowly dwindle and go away. The smaller scale operations would not be able to compete with the large scale operations and in this way, the city would stay family and nose friendly.

When Turkal finished addressing the group and audience with his vision for Bessemer marijuana production, Rob Coleman said, "It's too early for a recommendation right now. I think we can hold off for a few months." John Ossier replied, "I don't know what holding off does? We will still be saying the same thing."

The room did appear in agreement on the industrial park and not in the downtown area, but was unwilling to make their recommendation so they tabled the discussion for another month. Knowing the city council can still decide one way or the other, with or without the recommendation of the Planning Commission.


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