MENOMINEE — The final draft of an ordinance concerning marijuana establishments in the City of Menominee was discussed Wednesday at the city Judicial and Legislative / Personnel Committee meeting. The draft was subsequently sent to the city council for review.

City Manager Tony Graff said the next steps for the ordinance is to schedule a public hearing. Councilmember Frank Pohlmann said many of the “most glaring” problems with the ordinances have been addressed in this final draft, however he said a few issues still remained.

“I’m referring to item XX03 E., and it talks about a date that needs to be entered (into the text of the ordinance). Wouldn’t it be better if you define a period there, rather than put a date in? I’m making this point because this ordinance, then, is only good for the initial award. Rather, if maybe somebody doesn’t have a license anymore, wouldn’t it make more sense to say there’s a three-month window where everybody can send in their application? The way it’s written right now, it only deals with one moment in time,” he said.

City Attorney Mike Celello said he agreed with Pohlmann’s point. “You want to have the initial period stated, because that’s where all of your initial applications will come. After that, you’re talking about renewal periods. If someone drops out, then you could amend that to say that, should a successful applicant receive a license and then elect either not to follow through or not to renew, we could certainly amend the language to cover both of those scenarios,” he said.

Pohlmann pointed out that a section in the ordinance states the city manager would forward the results of scoring for issuing of licenses to the city council. “In the past, we’ve often worked with committees before it goes to the council. Would it make some sense to do that again, that it first goes to the JL/PL Committee and then goes to the council?” he said.

Celello said he would be cautious about doing that, as the committee could be involved with the scoring process, which is an administrative function rather than a legislative function. “If, for the purposes of the committee knowing what the recommendations are, then yes, I wouldn’t have any caution against that. If, on the other hand, you wanted to go to a committee for the committee to review the scoring, I would caution against that,” he said.

Graff said the idea was not for the JL/PL Committee to have a hand in determining scoring, but just to be notified first before the recommendation goes to council, which keeps with the city government’s current practices. Celello agreed to amend the ordinance’s language to include. “That’s sound protocol,” he said.

Pohlmann also asked Police Chief Brett Botbyl about the significant role of police enforcement outlined in the ordinance. “You have a significant number of establishments and very detailed requirements, and I see that the Menominee Police will be responsible for enforcing some of them, if not all of them. What does it do operationally to your budget, and do you have any strategies on how this will be performed?” he asked.

Botbyl said he doesn’t have anything set on a budgetary level yet, and the ordinance will affect the department’s manpower issues. “In my last monthly report, I talked about manpower issues, obviously with COVID and revenues being down. As of right now, the academy is graduating; we don’t have anybody because we’re not hiking anybody. We have to wait until the next academy; we’re looking at about January 2022.”

Celello said the annual fee in the ordinance of $5,000 per license is intended to offset the expenses associated with the cost of enforcement. “Whether or not the city would determine that all of the amount would be earmarked for that would be up to legislative discretion. I think the vast majority of the operational standards are going to be more of a building inspector and zoning enforcement function than law enforcement,” he said.

Pohlmann asked Building Inspector Derrick Schultz if he would be able to carry out the duties mentioned in the ordinance.

“I’ve seen it, but I’ve not studied it. I’m not prepared to start enforcing it right now. I don’t know how we’d add any more obligation to my list, and that’s just me being truthful,” Schultz said.

Pohlmann also asked Botbyl about the possibility of marijuana sold at establishments in Menominee being carried across to Wisconsin.

“If we’re talking about exporting marijuana,” Botbyl said, “the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Garden Peninsula has been exporting marijuana for years, whether legal or illegal. Is it going to have an effect? I cannot say one way or another. Will they be taking marijuana out of Michigan into Wisconsin? Absolutely,” he said.

The committee forwarded the draft ordinance on to the city council and scheduled a public hearing of it for the next council meeting.