SCOTTVILLE — The question of whether to allow recreational marijuana facilities to operate in Scottville will be revisited once again, in order to consider the requests of a cannabis facility hoping to get its business off the ground.
During Monday’s meeting of the city commission, officials moved to have Scottville’s 2019 ordinance prohibiting marijuana facilities reinspected and analyzed by the city’s ordinance committee in light of a recent business proposal and zoning application from Left Coast Apothecary, which is seeking to establish an “adult-only, 21-and-up cannabis provisioning center and retail store” in the Scottville, according to a presentation the owners gave to the city in August.
The motion was the result of a discussion that started with Mayor Pro-Tem Rob Alway, who also serves on the planning commission, stating that Left Coast had approached the planners with a zoning site application for the business.
City Attorney Carlos Alvarado said the planning commission was not able make a recommendation to the city commission about the application because of the existing prohibition of marijuana facilities.
“Obviously, because there is an ordinance that prohibits those enterprises, the planning commission could not review the zoning application request,” Alvarado said.
Alvarado then explained the city’s options, which were, “to either … repeal the old ordinance that instituted the prohibition of marijuana business, or send it back to ordinance committee to analyze and discuss it, or simply do nothing.”
“There was a discussion on the planning commission about the wisdom of having the ordinance committee review it and prepare a report for the commission, as some members of the (city) commission did not participate at the time the ordinance was passed,” Alvarado said.
Commissioner Bruce Claveau made a motion to send the issue to the ordinance committee for further review.
“As Carlos said, I wasn’t present on the commission when it was originally done,” Cleaveau said.
Commissioner Ryan Graham, who supported the motion, said he, too, was not on the commission at the time, adding that he would like to gauge the feelings of the current membership.
Alway reminded commissioners that when the ordinance prohibiting marijuana business was put in place, the city promised to revisit the issue at a later date.
“I want to also clarify that, at the time this ordinance was passed, it was stated by this commission that we would let the state ‘shake the bugs out,’” Alway said. “And it’s an appropriate time to review this, especially since we have a business that’s interested in doing this.”
Commissioner Aaron Seiter asked if there was any chance the issue might go before the residents as a referendum, and Mayor Marcy Spencer said that was a possibility.
Graham asked if any groups had presented a business plan to the city at the time the ordinance was put in place. Spencer replied that none had.
“Well, it’s been two years,” Graham said. “Maybe it’s time the ordinance (committee) takes a deeper look at it.”
The at-large commissioner seat vacated by Sally Cole on Sept. 7 has been filled.
Eric Thue, who originally interviewed for a seat on the commission in July, following the resignation of Brian Benyo, was the only resident who submitted a letter of interest to fill Cole’s position.
Alway made the motion to appoint Thue to serve out the remainder of Cole’s term, which expires in 2022. The motion was supported and unanimously approved by the commission.
Thue was sworn in by City Clerk Kelse Lester that night before taking his seat at the commissioners’ table.
Commissioners also discussed potentially eliminating seasonal and monthly rentals at Scottville’s Riverside Park, and referred to the finance committee for review.
City Manager Jimmy Newkirk gave a presentation in which he outlined some potential lost profits for the city as a result of seasonal and monthly rentals at the park, and a roll call vote to eliminate those extended rentals was taken, but resulted in a tie, with Alway, Spencer and Claveau voting yes and Seiter, Graham and Thue voting no.
Because the vote came to a tie, and Commissioner Nathan Yeowmans was not there to break it, Alvarado said that meant the motion failed.
Graham said he thought it was a “terrible idea” to eliminate seasonal and monthly camping, and Seiter stated that many people would be upset if they lost those options.
Alway and Spencer, who both supported doing away with seasonal and monthly rentals, said they were looking at it from a fiscal perspective.
“When it comes down to it, we have to look out for the best interest of the taxpayers of our city and the revenue that it generates,” Alway said. “I’ve been down there and there are campers on cinderblocks, as if it’s their own place. There have been seasonal campers that have caused a lot of problems this year with an entitlement that they’re above our rules.”
In the end, Graham made a motion to send the issue to committee for review, and it passed unanimously. The matter will be discussed by the finance committee on Thursday.
The city voted to have the issue of re-adopt an outdoor and social zone in Scottville sent to the ordinance committee for further review. The social district was initially approved during the pandemic, and expired in October 2020. Newkirk hopes to bring it back, but with some possible modifications.
Alvarado said that, when the zone was initially created, there were more limitations about what was possible for the social district, per state law. Things are more flexible now, and he recommended having the committee review the issue, and also survey the public and business owners, about what they’d like to see in a reinstated outdoor dining and social district.
The commission also approved extending its contract with Jabrocky Excavating for snow removal services during the upcoming winter.
Newkirk stated that when Jabrocky was awarded the bid in 2020, it came with an option to renew for up to two one-year period, and, because the price had stayed the same on Jabrocky’s end, Newkirk recommended extending the contract.