The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Marenisco Township voters may decide marijuana issue


March 22, 2019


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MareniscoMarenisco Township voters may decide the fate of potential enterprises relating to recreational marijuana.

That’s what Marenisco supervisor Richard Bouvette said in a Thursday phone call with the Globe.

“Once we get the ordinance together, all we have to do is put it on the ballot,” said Bouvette. “The people will decide whether we have marijuana.”

If the issue is determined via an election, Marenisco will be unique in being the only city or township in Gogebic County, so far, to take that route.

Except for a few pending decisions, most other governmental entities in the county have voted so far to opt out of the recreational marijuana business.

In fact, many of them not only have passed initial ordinances to opt out of such business, but also then have followed up with additional, related zoning ordinances that underscore their position.

Bouvette said Marenisco Township board members discussed the issue at their Monday evening meeting. “Our attorney gave us a preliminary ordinance, and I read that and we took no action,” he said.

The supervisor said, once the ordinance is finalized, a related public hearing will be held. He does not expect a hearing until May.

If citizens do vote to welcome marijuana enterprise, Bouvette said board members will scrutinize how they allow any potential recreational business.

“We’ll limit the number, and we’ll place them pretty carefully,” he said, assuring they will approach the situation methodically and adding, “It takes awhile to digest this stuff.”

Bouvette said he hopes an election regarding the issue will take place by August.

Marijuana-related decisions have been a regular occurrence at local governmental meetings ever since citizens voted last November to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan.

New budget

In other news, Bouvette said board members also acknowledged the need to finalize their next year’s budget by the end of this month. Marenisco’s next fiscal year runs from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020.

Bouvette said the township’s 2018-2019 fiscal year budget took a considerable hit when the Michigan Department of Corrections closed Marenisco’s Ojibway Correctional Facility at the end of last year.

Nevertheless, Bouvette added of the coming fiscal year, “Our budget will probably be okay.”

The supervisor is more concerned about the following year’s fiscal budget, running from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

He said new census figures in 2020 will register a dramatic change in population due to the loss of Ojibway’s prisoner count.

Bouvette reported to his March newsletter readers that the fallout from the 2020 census “may be a disaster” because close to 1,000 prisoners once housed here no longer will be included in the township’s population.

The last census from 2010 states that Marenisco has 1,727 residents.

Bouvette said Thursday that he expects Marenisco Township will lose 8 to 10 percent of its total budget because the 2020 census population total may be fewer than 1,000 residents.

He said a financial loss will occur because state revenue-sharing funds “are based almost exclusively on population.”

The supervisor concluded of the 2020-2021 fiscal budget, “I’m not sure how much it’s going to affect it because I’m not sure when the new census will kick in.”

Next meetings

The board will meet next for a budget hearing on March 27 at 5:45 p.m., followed immediately by a special meeting on the budget.

The board’s next regular meeting will be on April 15 at 6 p.m.

Both meetings will be in the Marenisco Township Hall, and the public is welcome.


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