Pleasant Ridge schedules public hearing on allowing marijuana businesses

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published June 27, 2021

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PLEASANT RIDGE — The city of Pleasant Ridge has set a date for a public hearing on a marijuana facilities ordinance.

During its June 8 meeting, the City Commission approved a public hearing for Tuesday, July 13, to gather public comments on a proposed ordinance that would allow certain marijuana businesses to operate in Pleasant Ridge.

After Michigan voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2018, local municipalities had to decide whether they would opt in or out of allowing marijuana establishments in their cities. Based on the community’s feedback and the commission’s feelings at that time, Pleasant Ridge chose to opt out in 2019.

City Manager James Breuckman stated that this move was a placeholder action the commission would have to reconsider at some point. The reason it was brought forth now, he said, was due to the potential of a citizen-driven ballot initiative that other Michigan cities have seen and that would force Pleasant Ridge to allow marijuana businesses.

“The way that it’s operated so far is that there’s a fairly innocuous sounding question that actually goes on the ballot talking about the number of facilities that we’re going to permit in the city, but not included on the ballot is a fairly lengthy ordinance that gets adopted if the ballot question passes,” he said during the meeting. “The ordinance is not always what the community would prefer or like to see or choose to regulate these types of uses. It’s what the proponents of the ballot initiative want to see.”

While some cities have engaged in lawsuits over these matters, Pleasant Ridge is looking to sidestep any initiative by writing its own ordinance.

The ordinance lays out the licensing procedures and qualification requirements that would guide how and who the city would grant a license to, operating requirements and location requirements. Facilities also have to be at least 200 feet from any structure that’s used or zoned for residential purposes. The only section of the city that would meet the requirements would be the Iron Ridge district near Eprize Drive.

“We don’t want these causing spillover impacts into the neighborhood because … that’s where we’re gonna hear the complaints, that’s where we’re gonna have to mostly get involved in dealing with those off-site impacts, and having dealt with that a little bit in the past, it’s difficult,” Breuckman said. “The police can’t be there … 12 hours a day to be parking police for people going into these businesses.”

As for the types of marijuana businesses that would be allowed under the ordinance, one marijuana microbusiness would be authorized, two retail or provisioning centers, two processors, two safety compliance facilities, and two secure transporters.

Often, Breuckman said, a business would have co-location of licenses, which means one business entity will bundle multiple licenses, such as a provisioning center that also has a processing license, safety compliance license and transporting license so it can produce its own edibles on-site for sale, conduct safety testing on the product, and then transport it for delivery..

“We would expect that to also be the case in Pleasant Ridge, so that’s why we authorized two of each of these categories, because they’re very commonly co-located,” he said.

“We are trying to be proactive on this to claim our space here rather than having it claimed for us through a ballot initiative, and also just now we have a little bit more comfort with, you know, how we can do this,” he continued. “There’s still a lot of unanswered questions under the state law and we know ... that’s just something that we have to deal with.”

Residents interested in reviewing the ordinance can find the document in the City Commission’s June 8 agenda packet at www.cityofpleasantridge.org.

Though the commission is moving forward with the public hearing, Mayor Kurt Metzger said they were “perfectly happy” being opted out.

“That was our choice and certainly the city administration felt the same way, but with the possibility of this citizen initiative, and even though I don’t think Pleasant Ridgers will pass it, we don’t want to take any chances,” he said. “Between (City Attorney Greg Need) and Jim, we’ve come up with a … very comprehensive ordinance that really does more or less direct what we want to the place that we would want it if we have to have it.”

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