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August 22, 2019 Minutes - Work Session




Thursday, August 22, 2019


Pursuant to Charter Section 6.2 the meeting was called to hear public comments about adult use marijuana within the City of Buchanan.  The Mayor called the Public Hearing to order at 6:00 p.m.


City Commission Members present: Mayor Moore, Commissioners Toerne, Weedon, and Denison

City Commission Members absent:  Commissioner Downey

Planning Commission Members present: Kevin Barker, Vanessa Burns and Ralph McDonald

Staff present:  City Zoning Administrator Debra Patzer and City Clerk Brenda Hess

Guests/Visitors present:  Nine


The Mayor did introductions and reviewed procedures for public hearings.


Patzer reviewed changes in the draft.  Noted most changes occurred in section 15 Minimum Operational Standards of Designated Consumption Establishments. 


The Mayor called the Public Hearing to order at 6:03. 


Weedon arrived at 6:03 p.m.


Ed Graveline – Thanked City staff for work on Ordinance.  Requested total of 5 for retailers and microbusinesses total due to lack of space in City.  In favor of having businesses in industrial areas. 


Being no further discussion, the Mayor closed the Public Hearing at 6:07 p.m.


Work Session began at 6:07 p.m.


Patzer noted all changes in Ordinance indicated in italics and blue type.  Noted numbers of different establishments need to be determined.  Toerne noted he attended a Niles Chamber meeting and Niles initially opted out. Commented Niles is now in a hurry to opt in as they need to both opt in as well as create an Ordinance.  Weedon noted Niles and Benton Harbor qualify for State assistance based on demographics/economics.  Patzer noted it is beneficial to get the City’s plan and Ordinance completed early.  Moore inquired as to possible legal issues if City were to set a number of establishments and then later reduce that number.  Patzer commented the Ordinance can be modified to change numbers.  Denison stated the desire to start with low and then add more as needed.  He also inquired regarding the permits for temporary events and why it was valid for “seven days”.  Also commented one temporary event would be good to start.  State has created the rules for temporary permits. State approves temporary event licenses first which is a six-month process, and then licensee would have to receive a permit from the City.  Temporary marijuana permits are granted to marijuana event organizers, not businesses.  Weedon inquired as to where these events would be allowed.  It was noted that temporary events would have to be approved by the Planning Commission as well. 


Process for granting recreational permits was discussed.  Existing medical marijuana businesses will receive priority for adult use for the first twenty-four months after approval of Ordinance.  Microbusinesses are an unknown type of business and allowing one would be a start. 


Consumption rooms are separate and distinct enterprise from a microbusiness.  It was previously suggested to have those retail businesses fall under an “umbrella” with a total number allowed for the combination.  Patzer noted we can regulate all marijuana facilities by time, place and manner.  Clarification of consumption was discussed.  Rick Paniagua noted that smoking would most likely not be allowed in consumption businesses.  Noting that we don’t know what the interest in those establishments will be.


The “umbrella” would cover retail, consumption and microbusiness; Patzer noted microbusinesses need to be separate and could not be included under umbrella.  Temporary events could be in a separate category as well.  Reiterated the law states municipalities may restrict the number and type of businesses.  Microbusinesses are expensive to start and might not be successful based on the small number of plants allowed and the difficulty in processing as all steps from seed to retail must occur on same premises. 


Concerns were expressed about temporary events competing with brick and mortar marijuana businesses.  It was noted that temporary event permits could be limited to those already having established businesses within the City which would allow the City to get a feel for how an event would operate, then possibly allow those from outside of the City to seek temporary event permits.  City could require event permit holders to work with City retailers for product instead of outside businesses. 


Many questions remain regarding microbusiness. Noted extraction can be a complicated and dangerous process which should not be permitted in many areas of the City.  Noted Planning Commission would be especially vigilant in the zoning of microbusinesses. 


Events would be sponsored by a marijuana event organizer and the product would come from multiple retailers. There are requirements for security and identification.  Limits were discussed in detail.  Limits upon locations without limiting the number of businesses was discussed.  The umbrella of retail, consumption and microbusiness would be 2.


Verbiage can be developed regarding the number of establishments.  Moore noted priority should be given to businesses who have committed to Buchanan with medical marijuana. 


There was general agreement that for adult use marijuana retail, there should be 5 retail in existing medical marijuana structures with no more than 2 more additional locations, making a total of 7 establishments; 5 in existing locations and 2 new locations. It was noted that one event should be allowed.


Application process for existing medical permit holders was discussed and it was noted adult use application could be added to the already approved medical application for existing permit holders.  Fees will be established by Resolution.  Draft says an annual fee of not more than $5,000.00.


Excess growing facilities were discussed.  Redbud Roots and Seven Engines are both interested in obtaining excess grower permits.  It was decided that 2 excess growers will be allowed, noting again fees would be established by Resolution. 


Locations for marijuana events were discussed. Noted most envision events to be like Woodstock, but they are more similar trade shows. Smoking will not be allowed at events.  Reiterated events would need to be approved by the Planning Commission. 


Hours of operation were discussed, and it was suggested they be from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. for retailers and microbusinesses.  Hours for consumption rooms and events will be set up through the application process. 


Vaping and smoking were discussed in relation to consumption rooms.  Odors can be controlled. 


All agreed to get changes to Debra as soon as possible.  Next work session scheduled for Thursday, September 5 at 6:00 p.m.


The Mayor adjourned the meeting at 7:39 p.m.


__________________________________        ________________________________

Brenda Hess, City Clerk                                         Patricia Moore, Mayor

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