Ferndale amends ordinances to allow recreational marijuana businesses

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 29, 2019

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FERNDALE — Ferndale has approved ordinance language to allow recreational marijuana businesses.

At a special City Council meeting Oct. 21, amendments to Ferndale’s medical marijuana zoning and regulatory ordinances were approved unanimously to establish the guidelines of how recreational businesses can open.

The recreational marijuana standards are similar to the city’s medical marjuana ordinance, in that the 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. hours of operation, the 500-foot buffer from schools and day care centers, the square footage limitations, and the applicable zoning districts are all the same.

City Planner Justin Lyons said that this was done because the city wants to see how these facilities operate and observe what kind of effect they have on the community.

“(The City Council’s) thought was keeping it concentrated in the same districts to get data before having council or the community decide where else these facilities make sense and if there would be more of them or not,” he said. “It seemed like the (medical marijuana) ordinance was originally done with (recreational marijuana) in mind anyway, so I think that just led to consistency between medical and recreational.”

The issue was set for a special meeting, Mayor Dan Martin said, because the state announced that it was going to start taking applications Nov. 1. He said the city needed to get approval on an ordinance amendment, as there is a seven-day window for the ordinance to take effect.

“That put us in a little bit of a rush to look at our zoning and our regulatory ordinances, to have them in place so when they start accepting applications on Nov. 1, we’ve got the ‘how’ defined — how you’re going to establish and sell (recreational) marijuana in the city,” Martin stated.

Outside of the amendments that were approved, the council extended the amount of time that recreational businesses can apply to Ferndale until March 1. The council will then have 60 days to review the applications and select the businesses that it thinks will best fit in the city.

As with the medical marijuana ordinance, three recreational marijuana businesses can obtain a license to operate in Ferndale.

“It’s unclear right now how long the state will take to review applications,” Lyons said. “I think council thought, and some of the community members in the audience had mentioned, a longer time period would probably give more people opportunity to apply.”

Martin said the council will follow a list of criteria in the amendment to determine which businesses are the best qualified for licenses.

“The state law doesn’t allow — for retail — the first-come, first-served process we used under medical,” he stated. “So some governing entity, and right now that’s defined as City Council, needs to go through the criteria and evaluate the applicants based on those criteria.”

Some of those criteria include whether the proposed facility will revitalize or redevelop property that has been vacant or unused for an extended period of time; if the proposed marijuana establishment will be consistent with land use for the surrounding neighborhood and not have a detrimental effect on traffic patterns and public safety; and whether the applicant or any of its stakeholders have a record of acts detrimental to the public health, security, safety, morals, good order or general welfare prior to the date of the application, or if they’ve previously operated an illegal business enterprise of any kind.

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