Harrisville opens for marijuana business

HARRISVILLE — The Harrisville City Council on Monday unanimously approved new medical and recreational marijuana ordinances and amended the zoning requirements for both types of marijuana-related businesses to operate in the city.

The ordinances go into effect on June 26, after notice has been formally published in the local newspaper.

Mayor Jeff Gehring said city officials worked hard and he believes a medical marijuana facility or recreational marijuana establishment could be a “building block” that would allow additional development to come to the city. Gehring said the city has already had one “quite serious” inquiry, and he believes the city council’s gamble in spending the money to develop the ordinances will pay off. Harrisville paid Tom Reif, consultant with Michigan Municipal Cannabis Consultants, $5,000 to help draft its ordinances.

“I think we’re going down the right track,” Gehring said. “Everything is looking good, and I’m pretty excited. There’s been more interest in town than there has been in a long time, so I’m happy about that.”

Gehring said that, when people see that the marijuana initiative is successful, maybe they’ll want to start a small restaurant or a little clothing store or a business from other industries that show what “a pretty cool little place” Harrisville is. He said there are several buildings in town that would be great locations for new businesses to start.

“There’s a ton of things you could have here that people would love,” he said.

The ordinance allows medical marijuana facilities to operate in the city’s industrial zone and recreational marijuana establishments to operate in its commercial and mixed-use zones. The city’s industrial zone is located at the south end of town, just north of Harrisville State Park, and its commercial and mixed-use zones are located along the U.S.-23 corridor that runs through the city.

Those interested in getting a special-use permit from the city would pay $25 to receive the application packet. They would then pay a non-refundable application fee of $500 for a special-use permit, which is charged when the permit is submitted. A non-refundable local permitting fee of $5,000 is also required annually for each permit issued under the ordinance.

In addition to addressing where marijuana businesses can operate within the city, the ordinance requires the businesses to have an extensive security system with surveillance cameras and burglary alarms, as well as an operating air-filtration system to control any odors.

Depictions of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia is not allowed on the building nor the outside property.

The ordinances also stipulate that:

∫ Medical or recreational marijuana cannot be sold in residential neighborhoods.

∫ Medical marijuana facilities and recreational marijuana establishments cannot be located within 250 feet of any school, college or university, library, preschool, or child care facility.

∫ The amount of marijuana on the property cannot exceed the amount permitted by the state license or the city’s permit.

∫ Marijuana offered for sale or distribution must be packaged and labeled according to state law. Additionally, marijuana cannot be visible from outside the facility.

∫ The sale, consumption or use of alcohol or tobacco products on the property is not allowed. Smoking or consumption of controlled substances, including marijuana, on the property is also not allowed.

∫ No person younger than18 will be able to enter a commercial marijuana facility without a parent or legal guardian.

Reif, Gehring and City Attorney Dave Cook will continue to develop the application packet for the special-use permit.

Michigan voters legalized medicinal marijuana in 2008 and recreational marijuana last year. Harrisville was the first community in Northeast Michigan to actively allow recreational marijuana facilities, while several other governments in the region –including Alpena and Alpena Township –have prohibited such businesses.

The state has finalized licensing regulations for medical marijuana but has not yet done so for recreational marijuana establishments.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.

In other business

The Harrisville City Council on Monday also:

∫ accepted “with regret” the resignation of Alderman Mike Baird from the council and related boards and commissions. Gehring described Baird as “a figurehead” and the “backbone” of the council, and said Baird resigned because of “family issues.

In addition to serving on the city council, Baird served on the Planning Commission, the Harrisville Harbor Commission, as well as the Fire Review Board. The council is now looking to fill the Ward III vacancy and agreed to advertise for the position in the Alcona County Review.