Pleasant Ridge approves ordinance to establish guidelines for marijuana businesses

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published July 31, 2021

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PLEASANT RIDGE — The governing body of Pleasant Ridge has passed an ordinance regarding marijuana facilities.

At its July 13 meeting, the Pleasant Ridge City Commission approved an ordinance that allows recreational and medical marijuana facilities to open in town.

The city previously had temporarily opted out of allowing marijuana businesses opening in 2019, but began writing this ordinance when the possibility of a citizen-driven ballot initiative came up. An initiative might have established regulatory standards that Pleasant Ridge leaders were concerned would be against the city’s best interests.

“We knew that there were some regulatory uncertainties in the state law, and we wanted to wait for clarity on those, but at the same time the opportunity of having an ordinance forced upon us with standards in it for how we regulate these uses and where they go that we didn’t develop and we as a community didn’t feel were appropriate, that wasn’t attractive to us,” City Manager James Breuckman said during the meeting.

“We’re now proposing an ordinance that would allow for marijuana facilities in our community in locations and methods and processes in manners of our choosing to make sure that we are the ones who are saying ... it’s appropriate here, this is how we want it to operate, this is where we think it’s appropriate based on our local experience, not with marijuana businesses, but just with businesses in general and how those fit with the neighborhoods,” he continued.

The city’s ordinance set its desired regulations for location, parking, licensing process and operating standards for potential marijuana businesses.

Pleasant Ridge also determined that it would authorize one marijuana microbusiness, two retail or provisioning centers, two processors, two safety compliance facilities, and two secure transporters. The city decided against allowing growing operations and consumption establishments.

As for why the city chose to allow two businesses for some of the business types, Breuckman said there often will be co-location of licenses, or a business that holds more than one type of license.

“They could have a retailer and a processing license, or retailer and a compliance facility license, or retailer and processing and safety compliance, just so they can do things in-house … produce your own gummies instead of buying them in,” he said.

Potential businesses would be able to locate in either the Iron Ridge District or one small area of northbound Woodward Avenue on the border of Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge. According to the ordinance, establishments must be separated from residential structures by 200 feet.

The ordinance states that the hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., there are nuisance provisions to prevent smells and odors, and signs cannot contain marijuana leaf images or any of the following words: marijuana, marihuana, weed, cannabis, blunt, doobie, joint, hooch, hash or other slang terms for marijuana.

Resident Kristi McAuliffe, who lives near the former Cork Wine Pub on Woodward Avenue, was not in favor of having a marijuana establishment near her home.

McAuliffe stated that when Cork was operating nearby, she was grateful to have accommodating owners as neighbors but also noted there were parking issues because of the patrons who would visit the business. She also added that she has no issues if any businesses were located in Iron Ridge, as it makes sense for parking.

“I am not in favor of this being two doors down from my house, so thank you for the 200 feet,” she said. “I don’t want more traffic. I already have an alley with a stop sign that people run all the time, and I have a 10-year-old. Simple as that. I don’t care if it’s Cork, I don’t care if it’s weed, I don’t care. I want less cars on my street. We are a community of residents. As far as being a narrow location, it should be. It’s a high-traffic zone. Whether it’s a Starbucks, whether it’s whatever, it is a high-traffic business. Keep it off my street.”

Commissioner Ann Perry said this marijuana ordinance “definitely” wasn’t on her agenda for the commission to start working on — something she thinks many of her fellow commissioners feel as well.

“I appreciate what the city manager and the city attorney have helped us do because it helps protect us as a city so that it’ll be an ordinance that is in the best interest of the residents and that will be able to reflect what the views are, even if the views change from the residents,” she said.

Pleasant Ridge will begin accepting business applications starting Sept. 15. For those interested in reading the entire ordinance, it can be found at www.cityofpleasantridge.org.

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