By TOM LAVENTURE
The commission 4-0 approved to amend the city nuisance ordinance to address odors at its meeting Monday. Commissioner Joseph Cayer was not present.
The amendment provides some tools for the city to help address nuisances relative to smells to include marijuana growing, said Scott Erickson, city manager. There is now a mechanism to use equipment that can measure levels of odor to address concerns of residents and business owners who come forward with complaints, he said.
“It is set up for any obnoxious odor that we might run across,” Erickson said. “I think it will be a good set of tools to help us address some odor issues if and when they do become a problem in our neighborhoods or commercial districts.”
The commission wanted the odor ordinance in place prior to the adult-use marijuana ordinance taking effect on Nov. 10. This is when the application period is expected to open in a competitive licensure process for marijuana micro-businesses, retail, processors, growing, safety compliance facilities and secure transport.
The commission 4-0 approved adding the municipal civil infraction chapter to the city code of ordinances. The chapter outlines the civil fines associated with the nuisance ordinance and outlines procedures for individuals who disagree with a violation and move the matter to district court.
“This ordinance would allow the city to establish basically a fine process versus a criminal process for some of our ordinances.” Erickson said. “This is being put in place to help with the commercial marijuana ordinance but also could be used for any ordinance that the city has that you’d like to convert to a fine from a criminal process.”
Many cities have a municipal civil infraction process in place, he said. It streamlines the process for violations and removes the criminal process of a violation.
The commission also introduced an amended adult-use marijuana establishments ordinance to include an application review and inspection process. A 5:20 p.m. public hearing will be held prior to the Nov. 9 regular meeting.
Jeff Barker, a Lansing attorney who is retained by community members seeking to apply for adult-use commercial marijuana licenses, expressed concern for ordinance language regarding application fees possibly exceeding the $5,000 maximum allowed under state law. Erickson said there is a $1,500 application fee and up to $3,500 in subsequent fees if the license is approved, followed by an annual $5,000 renewal fee.
The commission 4-0 approved a resolution correcting buffers to ensure marijuana establishments operate outside minimal distances from certain areas. The map contained an error in the 500-foot buffer around the Ironwood Carnegie Public Library, according to Erickson.
“The ordinance does spell out what the buffers are and where the operations will be permitted,” Erickson said. “This essentially was adjusted relative to the library buffer, and there were some parcels that were included in the map that should not have been, and this corrects and brings that into compliance to be accurate with the way the ordinance was written.”
In the COVID-19 response update, Andrew DiGiorgio, director of Ironwood Public Safety Department, said the current increase in positive cases in the city and county are draining resources. The community needs to stay cognizant of the need to continue following prevention guidelines.
“We still continue to see community-wide spread and cases are spiking to an all time high,” DiGiorgio said. “So, we just want to be cautious and continue to mask, wash our hands and keep our social distance.”
After consulting with the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department, the city is recommending extending Halloween trick-or-treating to four hours, 3 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31.
“It’s just very important to social distance, remain in immediate groups or small family groups, but also to have fun and participate in this activity,” DiGiorgio said. “Try and bring some normalcy to our youth as they currently are not in school due to the disease, but the health department was comfortable with moving forward with Halloween at this time.”
Mayor Annette Burchell asked how the various departments were working to prevent the spread as winter approaches and more people are indoors. Last spring the departments used staggered scheduling to minimize contact.
DiGiorgio said all officers wear masks and activities are limited inside the department facility. Officers wear cloth or surgical style masks except when responding to calls where COVID-19 is higher risk and they wear full personal protective equipment to include the N95 mask.
“We’ve done a good job in following the guidelines that the state has provided us,” DiGiorgio said. “I think you can kind of see that we’ve had some officers who have tested positive and we’ve really limited that to individual officers and we haven’t had the spread through our agency.”
In other business, the commission 4-0 approved:
—The sale of two map drawers from the Memorial Building surplus property list for $1 to the Ironwood Historical Society.
—The Gogebic Range Public Works Mutual Aid Agreement guidelines for support during a disaster or emergency.
—Authorizing sale of surplus public works department property.
—A $2,412 monthly lease extension for General Services Administration offices and services in the Memorial Building.
—Announced that the city clerk’s office will be open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. to pick up or drop off absentee voting ballots.