Ironwood sets hearing for marijuana ordinance


February 25, 2020


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Ironwood — The adult-use marijuana ordinance was introduced to the Ironwood City Commission on Monday, leading the way to a public hearing in March.

The adult-use marijuana establishments ordinance is a recommendation from the city planning commission to use should the city commission decide to option-in and allow adult-use marijuana growing, inspecting, transportation and retail sales in Ironwood.

The commission also heard a second recommendation regarding the extension of the current option-out ordinance until Sept. 1, should the council need more time to decide past the March 30 expiration.

The commission will hold a public hearing on March 9 when the commissioners may consider the adult-use question and the ordinance question, Corcoran said.

Martin Celeski, of Ironwood, urged the commissioners to option-out of allowing adult use marijuana facilities in Ironwood during the public comment portion of the meeting. He said most area Upper Peninsula communities have already optioned-out.

“I see no advantage to the city,” Celeski said.

Celeski went on to point out areas of concern with the zoning of the adult-use facilities. He thought some residential areas were too close.

Celeski wanted the commissioners to assure that funds from city licensing and permitting of commercial marijuana facilities, along with residual state sales tax revenue or other related funds would adequately provide for additional public safety officers. The inspections and other enforcement required under the ordinance would not likely be effective as things are now, he said.

“A law is only as good as its enforcement,” Celeski said.

Mayor Pro Tem Kim Corcoran officiated the meeting in the absence of Mayor Annette Burchell.

Burchell was attending meetings with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation regarding the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) matching funds of $1.67 million for Ironwood City Center project. Scott Erickson, city manager, and Tom Bergman, community development director, were also at the meetings.

Heidi DeRosso, Gogebic County Emergency Management and 911 coordinator, was present to speak on the surcharge question that will appear on the March 10 ballot. She said if the question passes the possible maximum charge allowed by the county would be $3 per month per phone account. This is a $1.35 a month increase from the current possible maximum of $1.65.

“We have never charged the full amount,” DeRosso said. “It is currently at $1.50.”

The increase request is to prepare for three major projects to replace radios, caches and other equipment, she said. The state 911 fund generates $338,000 annually for the county emergency management which comes from prepaid phones that aren’t directly credited to the county.

Commissioner Rick Semo said he’d like to see an Emergency Management office budget that shows where revenues come in and where the money goes.

Commissioner Joseph Cayer asked how much it would cost to establish a Gogebic County 911 and dispatch service rather than use the multi-county service. If so, he’d like to know if the funds are available through grants.

DeRosso said it is possible and there would be about a $1.5 million cost to start. There may be grants to offset costs, she said.

“This is a wonderful service that we all know is needed,” said Commissioner Jim Mildren.

DeRosso said if the question doesn’t pass the ballot, or if it does and the county still wants to charge a lower fee than the maximum, then it would be possible to spread the project over time or spread the costs over a few years to keep costs as low as possible.

“The Gogebic County Board ultimately approves the rate,” she said.

In other business, the commission approved:

— A $116,224 change order for the 2019 Local Street Paving Project to Angelo Luppino Construction for the milling and paving the Downtown Alleys and authorizing the Mayor Pro Tem to sign the documents. The contract for the 2019 project remains open in order to maintain the previously bid contract unit prices.

— A $51,000 pay application to Coleman Engineering Company for the engineering design of the Downtown City Square Project.


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