Tecumseh City Council extends moratorium on marijuana dispensaries
By DEB WUETHRICH
Tecumseh City Council members extended a temporary moratorium on the operation of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries at Monday night’s meeting, for an additional 180 days, or until an amendment of the Zoning Ordinance and other applicable codes are adopted.
The Tecumseh Planning Commission has been working on an ordinance since June that would control the locations and operating characteristics of facilities, but not prohibit them completely. City attorney, Scott Baker, reviewed the issue with the council, stating that the city is diligently working on an ordinance that will best allow compliance with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, P.A. 2008, in order to protect the public, health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Tecumseh.
Baker said there are “ever-evolving changes” to the Act, and opinions from state attorney generals, as well as court cases that have been closely followed as municipalities attempt to fashion ordinances that will be in compliance.
“I want to make very clear that what we are asking for the moratorium on is for the sale or dispensation of medical marijuana,” said Baker. “For the individual patient who has been issued a card, this moratorium does not affect them. They can still possess it provided they’ve met all the provisions and keep it in a closed, locked facility.”
Baker said he would also pass along the fact that this is an area that has been evolving so quickly with so many cases out there, and that a memo from the U.S. Department of Justice recently made it clear that it is illegal to possess marijuana whether the state has a medical marijuana act or not. That agency has, however, noted that it would not be the best use of federal resources to track down individual patients, but would continue to pursue drug traffickers. He said municipalities across the state are dealing with the issue, along with the Michigan Municipal League, the Association of Municipal Attorneys and others.
“We’re just asking that you take a prudent, methodical approach in adopting the ordinance,” said Baker. “I suggest we pursue it in a deliberate manner to protect our citizens and the individuals who have to apply the law.”
In other business, the council members:
• Moved the Sept. 5 council meeting to Tuesday, Sept. 6, due to the Labor Day holiday.
• Approved a transfer of funds from the General Fund to Local ($25,000) and Major Highway Funds ($35,000) in the 2011 fiscal year budget. Tecumseh City Manager Kevin Welch said that the city fared a little better on revenue and expenses after bills were paid this year than expected. “This way we can put some money directly into those streets,” he said.
• Approved the purchase of Skate Park Equipment for $10,255.27 from American Ramp Company. The funds were a gift from the Lenawee Community Foundation. The park, previously located in Tecumseh Park, will now be on one of the three tennis courts at Satterthwaite Park. Welch said a skate park group is also doing some private fundraising for the park.
• Approved adding text to the city’s comprehensive plan to address neighborhood commercial uses in areas currently planned for single family residential uses.
• Heard comments from the City Manager regarding: a reminder that charging for police overtime for events such as the school’s homecoming parade stemmed from an agreement made between the schools and the city at a joint meeting earlier this year regarding no longer utilizing “in kind” services between the two entities; learned that the state’s plan to eliminate personal property tax could affect the city by approximately $335,000 within the city budget and learned that the city met the requirements in its Popular Annual Financial Report prepared by Eastern Michigan University. Welch said that this was one of the components that would help the city earn back some of its revenue sharing based on Gov. Rick Snyder’s incentive plans.