Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ironwood marijuana ordinance takes effect in November


[email protected]

Ironwood — The Ironwood City Commission on Monday approved the date for the marijuana establishments ordinance to take effect.

The commission 4-1 approved Nov. 10 as the date that applicants may file applications in a competitive licensure process for marijuana micro-businesses, retail, processors, various classes of growers, safety compliance facilities and secure transporters that operate within approved areas of the city. The action follows the commission’s 3-2 approval of the ordinance to regulate adult-use marijuana establishments on Sept. 14.

“During our last meeting where the city commission adopted the marijuana establishment ordinance there was not an effective date in the motion,” said Tom Bergman, director of community development. “This is to rectify that so we have until Nov. 10 to put together all of our applications, procedures and the competitive application process in between now and then.

The date coincides with the sunset provision of the city’s option-out ordinance that expires on Nov. 9. 

“Is that enough time,” said Commissioner Rick Semo.

“Yes, I believe that will be adequate time,” Bergman said.

Commissioner Joseph Cayer voted against the ordinance effect date. He also opposed the ordinance votes in March and September.

“I don’t think this is good for our town,” Cayer said. “We have enough drug problems here. That is all I have to say.”

Cayer said the commission expressed its intention to enact a marijuana odor nuisance ordinance prior to passing the commercial ordinance. There is no nuisance ordinance, he said.

Bergman said the nuisance ordinance is nearly completed and should be presented to the commission to consider at an October meeting.

Cayer said his understanding of the ordinance is that it would allow a commercial marijuana business to exist within 10 feet of a residence.

Bergman said marijuana establishments are prohibited in residential areas. There are non-conforming residences within commercial districts that could potentially exist that are close to a marijuana establishment and would require a commercial set-back.

The conditional use permit process requires a planning commission process and public hearings, Bergman said. This requires notifying residents within 300 feet of a proposed establishment, he said.

Cayer asked how the ordinance could be changed once it’s in effect.

Bergman said that any ordinance can change under the commission’s amendment process which includes public hearings.

In the open comment portion of the meeting, an Ironwood resident said he is completing pre-qualification requirements for the state medical marijuana manufacturer license. He said the city’s adult-use marijuana ordinance does not provide a structure for medical marijuana and that the state licensure requires city licensure.

Bergman said that the language was not included because the medical marijuana licensing qualification for certain class growers and micro-businesses will expire on Dec. 6, 2021. At that point any person may apply for any of the licenses, he said.

In the COVID-19 response report, Paul Linn, city treasurer and finance director, said the original budget estimates for state revenue sharing and Act 51 street revenue were reduced during the May 2020 revenue consensus due to the coronavirus pandemic. The revenue sharing based on state sales tax, and Act 51 street revenue based on motor fuel and vehicle registration taxes were expected to decrease as a result of Michigan’s Stay at Home Order, he said.

The city’s actual revenue sharing was $71,000 less than the original budget, he said. The state eliminated a revenue payment and instead provided a $75,000 federal coronavirus relief grant.

The city received $99,000 of a $200,000 Public Safety Public Health Payroll Reimbursement Program grant request that will be used for April and May payroll. The city has received 50% of its federal relief request and anticipates a prorated amount going forward as municipal applications exceed the $200 million in available relief funding.

In his COVID-19 report, Andrew DiGiorgio, director of Ironwood Public Safety Department, said he has had discussions with the cities of Bessemer and Wakefield regarding trick-or-treating protocols for Halloween. The cities have decided to move forward and will post guidelines on the city website and the department’s Facebook page in the next two weeks.

There are currently 10 new cases of COVID-19 in Ironwood including five new cases announced Friday, he said. The trend is concerning in that the western Upper Peninsula has an upward trend at the same time the rest of the state is seeing a decline, he said.

Houghton County schools have shut down for 14 days after recording 158 active cases with many symptomatic cases that have inundated medical resources in those areas, DiGiorgio said. Wear masks, social distance, wash hands and stay cognizant of the threat, he said.

“We don’t want to see this happening in Gogebic County,” he said.

In other business, the commission unanimously approved:

—The $16,600 winter street sand bid for 2,000 tons at $8.30 per ton to Tiziani Sand & Gravel.

—The $11,400 ditch sand bid for 2,000 tons at $5.70 per ton to Jake’s Excavating.

—The $26,940 bid for 3,000 tons of 22A gravel at $8.98 per ton to Jake’s Excavating.

—A $76,954 three-year cemetery mowing contract bid to Saari’s Lawn Service.

—A $25,410 three-year park mowing contract bid to 4 Seasons Lawn & Property Services, Inc.

—A $517,140 third contractor payment application for the Downtown City Square Project for work completed to date upon approval from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

—Declaring old tables, furniture and office equipment as surplus to authorize bids to sell.

—An $11,620 bid for replacement of two boiler controls and a rooftop unit for the Ironwood Memorial Building to Automated Comfort Controls. The funds are already budgeted.