The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ontonagon council hears warnings from residents

 

September 11, 2019

Jan Tucker/Daily Globe

Councilman Mike Mogan uses a chart to show the Ontonagon Village Council and a large audience why he thinks approving a marijuana business in the community would not financially benefit the village.

By JAN TUCKER

jantuck@jamadots.com

Ontonagon - While the Ontonagon Village Council has been considering the question of an ordinance to allow the licensing of marijuana facilities and businesses in the village or adopting an ordinance to prohibit them, the crowd at Monday's council meeting left no doubt about what they wanted.

Speaker after speaker called on the council to opt-out of permission for such business in Ontonagon. Tim Guzek, a former Ontonagon police chief and officer, and county deputy sheriff asked if the village had contacted the 600 similar villages in the state about why they opted out of the marijuana business for their areas.

"If you have not done your homework that is irresponsible," he said. "Read the law, it is complicated. It is opening a big can of worms."

Guzek said in his 25 years in law enforcement, he observed that most kids started on marijuana and went on to stronger things. "Get it right, you can't close it later."

Attorney Ted Baird, who once served as village attorney, said there are 64 regulations in the new law and in six months the new regulations will be in place. He said the village must opt out by Nov. 1 or it will be difficult to opt out later if the village changes it plans. He urged the village to use its options.

Sis Haas reminded the council the majority of voters in the village and Ontonagon Township voted no on November's statewide ballot proposal for legalizing marijuana and the council should honor that.

Bob Seid of Ontonagon urged the council to "use common sense. ... Just because they pass a law does not mean it is a safe law."

Jim Harker described an accident causing death where the offending driver was under the influence of marijuana.

Tom Hamilton urged the council to "not rush it." He said local law enforcement is not equipped to handle a large influx of users. "Marijuana is just the tip of the iceberg," he added. He claimed that other drugs will follow and soon the "big boys" will be in here.

Similar sentiments were echoed by other residents.

Councilman Mike Mogan presented a chart showing that the permission to allow a marijuana business would not financially help the village as some have proposed. He said the state can use those funds "until they are made whole." He detailed what making whole could mean with a state agency being paid to oversee the law. He claimed the village would need eight extra mills to pay for police and other expenses associated with the law.

"Of the $1 million, $750,000 would leave the community," he said.

Manager Joe Erickson said if an ordinance is approved, the village would also require a special use permit which would involve approval from property owners. The Planning Commission will discuss this issue at its meeting Sept. 18 at 3:30 p.m.

The council has three choices, Erickson said: -Adopt an ordinance to specifically prohibit recreational marijuana business; -adopt an ordnance to allow and license recreational marijuana business; or -choose to do neither and then recreational marijuana businesses will be allowed in the village.

The council took no action on the proposal and has until Nov. 1 to do so.

 
 

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