4 marijuana retailers get selection committee's nod

James Martone, an attorney representing Fire Station Cannabis Co., left, and Logan Stauber, chief executive of Fire Station, shown at a previous city meeting, campaigned effectively for extra points on the company's application, but the selection committee said Wednesday it must complete a new construction to receive a retail permit.

EagleHerald Staff Writer

MENOMINEE—The top two marijuana retailers by rubic score were told Wednesday they would have to jump through more hoops before the City of Menominee will grant permits to them.

Constructing an addition to an existing building might not be sufficient for Fire Station Cannabis Co. to receive a Menominee city permit for a marijuana shop at 3101 11th St., and Lume Cannabis Co. must receive a special-use permit before it will be granted a permit for a retail medical marijuana store at 2812 10th St., according to recommendations Acting City Manager and Police Chief Brett Botbyl presented Wednesday to the Judicial and Legislative/Personnel and Labor Committee.

The marijuana scoring committee recommended two other purveyors receive city council approval: Rize for an adult-use retail store at 3213 10th St. and Agri-Med for a medical marijuana store at 3109/3113 10th St. Fire Station and Lume are recommended with additional requirements.

Kevin Blair, an attorney representing Lume, said during the time for public comments, “We submitted for special land-use approval in April. We submitted the application to you at that time. We’ve done everything we could to move that along. There was a decision made…to postpone that until after the licenses were decided.”

Whether the extra requirements for the two perfect-scoring marijuana retail applicants will be enough to knock one or both out of contention remains to be seen, but the Menominee City Council ultimately will decide which companies are granted permits to open within city limits. The city received 22 retail applications.

Members of the Judicial and Legislative/Personnel and Labor Committee declined to recommend the city council approve the marijuana rubric scoring committee’s recommendations Wednesday. Instead, the city council will receive the marijuana committee’s scores and recommendations without the JL/PL committee’s endorsement at its Sept. 20 meeting.

“For me to say, here I recommend this, I can’t because I haven’t read it. It’s going to take me about a day to understand it,” said council member William Plemel, chair of the JL/PL committee, about the information the marijuana scoring committee presented.

“My personal opinion is, I’d like it to go to council without a recommendation—not against it, not for it—so everybody gets an opportunity to consider it. Because, you know, there’s opposition on the council,” Plemel said.

If some considered the lack of endorsement a blow to the marijuana selection committee, Plemel said it wasn’t. “The selection committee did a really good job,” he said.

Acting City Manager Brett Botbyl, one of three members of the marijuana rubric scoring committee, presented the marijuana permit recommendations based on the rubric scores, but he also said two retail operators would have to meet certain requirements before receiving permits. Menominee Fire Chief Mark Petersen and then City Engineer and Public Works Director Tricia Alwin also served on the marijuana scoring committee. Alwin has since left the city and is working for Fincantieri Marinette Marine.

“What exactly is the opposition? To the ordinance?” asked councilman Frank Pohlmann, who wanted the JL/PL committee to send the marijuana recommendations to the city council with its approval.

Major Jean Stegeman said she also would prefer the JL/PL committee recommend the scoring committee’s selections to city council. “Any member of council had nine months to express concern” about the ordinance, she said.

But Plemel was firm in his resistance, saying he needed time to consider the score sheet Botbyl provided with explanations for the marijuana committee’s point deductions on applications. Many applicants disagreed with the scoring committee’s scores, but only two saw their scores increase after their rebuttal presentations in late August.

Like them or not, the scores will likely stand but whether the city council uses them as the only basis for determining what companies receive the go-ahead to open a marijuana business in Menominee remains to be seen. Plemel pointed out the ordinance essentially says, “The council has the right to do what they want.”

But it can’t rescore the applications, Pohlmann said. “The ordinance clearly states you can accept the recommendation from the scoring committee or we can reject it. But what we cannot do is rescore or re-rank” the applications.

Botbyl said the marijuana selection committee recommended eight permits, including four retail sales permits. The recommendations included retail sales permits for adult recreational-use marijuana to Fire Station Cannabis Co. at 3101 10th St. and to Rize/1st Property Holdings at 3213 10th St. Fire Station must construct a new facility at 3101 10th St. to receive the retail sales permit, Botbyl said. The company successfully campaigned for the scoring committee to increase its score to a perfect 50 by presenting an email from former City Manager Tony Graff stating the company’s plans for an addition met the requirements for a new facility.

The other recommended permits include two grow permits to Ottawa Innovations (one for medical use marijuana and one for adult recreational use) at 3113 10th St., adult grow permits to Fire Station Cannabis Co. at 3101 11th St. and to Ottawa Innovations LLC at 3113 10th St., and one processing center permit to Fire Station at 3101 11th St.

Ottawa Innovations also applied for a retail store, but received a score of 42, due to point reductions for past regulatory experience and for proposing to improve an existing structure for administrative offices. The company, owned by Joni Moore, who has previous management experience in the health care industry, presented a rebuttal on both areas where points were deducted, but the marijuana committee refused to change the scores.