By P.J. GLISSON
Members did, however, vote unanimously to pass on to the city council a capital improvement plan with their support. A related hearing on that matter opened and closed with no comment.
Two additional public hearings were held on a recreational marijuana zoning ordinance and on an ordinance prohibiting portable storage containers that exceed specific size guidelines.
A later, related vote on recreational marijuana zoning resulted in a tie, and commissioners tabled the ordinance on storage containers.
“Why are you going to jump the gun?” asked commissioner Bill McDonald regarding Ordinance No. 372, which amends the city’s current zoning ordinance to add the prohibition of recreational marijuana establishments.
“What about it is an emergency?” asked commissioner Louis Miskovich, who wondered why the ordinance, in its own words, refers to its adoption as “an emergency effecting the public peace, health and safety …”
He added, “I don’t see anything that constitutes an emergency.”
City manager Charly Loper said a downstate attorney had advised on the ordinance, which was intended to back up a separate ordinance passed by city council members who agreed to opt out of any aspect of the recreational marijuana business at least until the state works on related licensing rules throughout the rest of this year.
“To actually fully opt out, we have to do the zoning ordinance,” she said, adding that the same process has been a routine with many other Michigan cities.
She reminded the commisssion the city can opt in later if desired.
Miskovich and McDonald voted against the ordinance, while Chairman Dave Osier and commission member Terry Kryshak voted for it. Commission member Kevin Nyquist was absent.
Kryshak said it was important to wait until state licensing is in place, and Osier emphasized the need to stop potential retail establishments.
McDonald and Miskovich also questioned Ordinance No. 371, which prohibits storage containers more than 100 square feet and/or higher than six feet.
“I think we have more options than just prohibiting them,” said Miskovich, who said they can be a viable option for people who can’t afford to build a shed or garage.
He concluded, “I can’t pass this in good faith because I know there are a lot of other people like me that can’t afford better options.”
McDonald said the city should consider a ruling that allows homeowners to have storage units in their own back yards.
Osier said his priority was to avoid “eyesores,” while Kryshak said the commission’s main concern has been to avoid such storage options on commercial property. He added he was open to considering how to address the needs of other citizens.
Miskovich conceded that such containers should be painted to coordinate with the property’s house and that they should not be visible from the road.
The commission voted to table the matter and discuss it again at the next meeting in March.
Osier asked Loper, meanwhile, to check related state laws.