Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW — City officials are considering the formation of an advisory committee on potential marijuana businesses in the city. A study session held May 9 gave the City Council the opportunity to discuss the definition and composition of the committee.
The agenda said topics the committee would consider include the types of businesses permitted, the locations for these types, locations for the businesses, zoning and city ordinances that would need to be drafted, and fees. Also, the advisory committee would receive information then evaluate and make recommendation to the council.
Mayor Andrew Swift and council members each offered suggestions as to who should be on the committee, mentioning the possibility of residents, three council members, the police chief, a school district trustee, a representative from Beaumont Health or Henry Ford Hospital, business community leaders, city attorney, and a Guidance Center representative.
The three city council member names mentioned at the study session were Lynn Blanchette, Sussie O’Neil and Chuck Norton. Swift asked for help from the council on selecting the resit of the committee.
City Attorney Randy Pentiuk said that in terms of the business community, individual businesses having seats could be a conflict of interest but that the city could invite them to committee meetings to participate during audience participation or as guest speakers to present.
Swift said he liked that idea and said more discussions will take place on getting started with the core of the committee, which would have three council members, City Manager Douglas Drysdale, Community Development Director David Scurto, the police chief, and Pentiuk.
The recommendation on forming a committee came at an April 11 study session after the city administration presented its research to the city council about potential marijuana businesses.
At that study session, Drysdale said that a few weeks previous, Councilman Dean Workman tasked him and his team to look into marijuana businesses and report back with their findings.
The Police Department, city assessor and Community Development Department researched how cities regulate the different types of marijuana use as allowed under state legislation, the study session agenda said.
Scurto said that during the research, he discovered there are a number of operations the council should consider as it moves forward. Those included the number of grow facilities, processing a hybrid micro business, provisioning center, and designated consumption establishment.
Then, Drysdale said that his team looked at the impact on the community which involved Interim Police Chief Bob Bemis reaching out to three police chiefs in neighboring cities.
Bemis said that two chiefs said the marijuana businesses had no adverse effects from people who are patrons of the establishments.
One chief said there was a lot of out-of-state traffic at the businesses, while other patrons would hire rides to the dispensary, stay there, use the purchased products and hang around the neighborhood.
The next topic addressed at the study session was the financial aspect and what money would be raised for the city. Drysdale explained that through licensing, the city could charge up $5,000 per state statute, for each license with an annual renewal.
Facilities could have more than one license, with retail allowed medical and recreational licenses.
Also, growing facilities could have up to four licenses with a limit on how many plants they could grow for each license depending on classification, Drysdale said.
Revenue for the city could come from annual inspection fees which would be when the building department, police and fire make sure security plans for the establishments were up to date and up to code.
“On the retail side for recreational marijuana, the last distribution from the state was at $56,000 per store in your community,” Drysdale said. “There is a 10 percent sales tax charged on sale, but that goes to state and not the community. Fifteen percent goes to the communities, so for 2021, of the $172 million collected in taxes and fees, $42 million was distributed to cities.”
As the discussion continued, Drysdale said that in the process there would be a need for creating new ordinances and amending existing ordinances to update any details or restrictions.
Swift said he though about the impact on the community verses the financial benefit. He and visited Councilwoman Rita Gunaga marijuana facilities for a better look at how they operate.
During the study session, Swift said he would feel better if the marijuana business topic was put on the ballot for residents to cast their votes. Two years ago, the city opted out of having the commercial sale of recreational marijuana in Riverview, he said.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])