After more than an hour of public hearing on two ordinances dealing with medical marihuana, on Monday the Belleville City Council voted to table action and extended the moratorium for another 30 days.
The present moratorium would have ended before the next meeting, and council members felt their final action was getting close.
They said they needed more time to fine-tune the ordinances, but they have already had about nine months.
One ordinance is for zoning and allows medical marihuana-related activities in the Industrial-2 zoning, a strip of land along the south side of the railroad tracks.
The second ordinance is for permitting and spells out rules of operation for the establishments.
The ordinances are in response to the state referendum in 2008 that approved medical marijuana and the state statute that followed.
City Attorney John Day said there have been four or so inquiries about setting up shop in Belleville for medical marihuana-related businesses, including a dispensary and an indoor farm.
“The statute has a litany of defects, but the city is bound to abide by the laws passed by the State of Michigan,” Day said.
“There is nothing in the statute that actually legalizes marihuana,” Day said. “The sale is still illegal. The statute does say you can have these places and what they are going to do there is not clear.
“… Just saying where they will go … doesn’t mean it will successfully operate … If we don’t do it, we may have it where we don’t want it.”
He said the legislature and courts will have to figure out how this whole marihuana statute is going to work.
“It is just getting started,” Day said. “It will take decades to get through the courts.”
Mayor Richard Smith urged the council and members of the community to give any ideas or concerns they have on the marihuana ordinances to him or City Manager Diana Kollmeyer as soon as possible so they can be considered for the final drafts of the ordinances.
In other business Monday, the council:
* Approved excusing Mayor Pro-Tem Rick Dawson from the meeting as he is at home recuperating from cancer surgery and chemotherapy/radiation treatments. At the end of the meeting all the council members wished him a speedy recovery;
* Approved the closing of Main Street from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. between Roys and Third and also Fourth Street between Main and the alley on Saturday, Nov. 13. This will allow set-up time for the 11 a.m.-2 p.m. celebration of the completion of Main Street construction;
* Approved the re-appointment of Lawrence Gallo and the new appointment of Randy Priest to the Board of Review, both with terms to expire Dec. 31, 2013. Priest is replacing Dave Fields whose term expires Dec. 31. Priest is a retired school teacher who owned his own home improvement company;
* Approved the closing of Main Street at about 6 p.m. on Dec. 4 for the annual Christmas parade. Also, approved giving the Chamber of Commerce control of Main Street from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for a Winter Ice Fest on the same day. This will not involve a street closing. Events include ice carving demonstration and an outdoor skating rink on the Fourth Street Square provided by the Belleville Yacht Club, and other events. In a memo to the council, Chamber representative Tom DiPietro promised “no alcohol or marihuana will be sold” and since the election is over, there should be no “indecent or profane language” or any “indecent or disorderly conduct”;
* Unanimously approved the closing of Main Street from Third to Fifth and Fourth Street from Main to Charles from 7 p.m. Thursday, July 28, until midnight Saturday July 30, 2011 for a juried fine arts show, a juried craft show, and an antique show sponsored by the Belleville Area Council for the Arts. Councilman Jim Shrove at first was reluctant to close Main Street for an unproven event, but was convinced by BACA members and business persons in the audience;
* Held a public hearing and then unanimously passed an ordinance regulating outdoor portable storage units and refuse containers. If a container is to be used for more than 30 consecutive days or twice or more within six months, a city permit is needed. The ordinance was inspired by concern about how long people have been leaving such containers in their yards;
* Approved this year’s Home Decorating Contest, co-sponsored by the city and theIndependent. Holiday lights should be on from 6 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 15 and 16, when judges will select winners for Victoria Commons, Harbour Pointe, the two mobile home parks, and the balance of the city. Councilman Brian Blackburn said whatever section he is assigned to judge, he will take into consideration whether a house won last year because he wants to spread the awards around. Mayor Richard Smith said the judges will make their decisions individually and that beauty is “in the eye of the beholder”;
* Approved signatories for city investments with Multi-Bank Securities, Inc. The signers for any transactions are Richard Smith, mayor; Reginald Dawson, city council member; and Lisa Long, city clerk/treasurer;
* Approved accounts payable of $283,534.87, including the following departmental expenditures over $500: to SLC, $866.05 for replacement water meters from the water fund; to SMART, $1,618.08 for vehicle repairs, using CDBG funds; and to Water Tap $3,000 to replace water valve, from the water fund; and
* Heard Tom Fielder ask for people to donate their old strands of lights to help the Parks and Recreation Commission decorate Horizon Park without a budget. DPW Director Keith Boc said there are no electrical outlets for lights at Horizon Park.