Menominee attorney Randall Philipps addresses city council

Menominee attorney Randall Philipps spoke before the Menominee City Council during the public comment period Nov. 15.

EagleHerald Staff Writer

MENOMINEE—During its regular meeting Monday, the Menominee City Council avoided discussing several lawsuits the city faces over the way it awarded retail marijuana licenses late this summer.

But during the time for public comments, the council heard from Menominee attorney Randall Philipps, who is representing marijuana retailer Attitude Wellness/Lume in a lawsuit against the city.

As of Thursday, Phillipps said he still wasn’t aware of who would be defending the city in the litigation. The city council members have been named in several lawsuits, along with the city employees who participated in the selection process for marijuana retail licenses.

About the Attitude Wellness/Lume lawsuit, which the EagleHerald reported on Nov. 9, Philipps said before the city council Monday, “We’re hoping it’s not acrimonious. We’re trying to get relief from certain things. We’re surprised to see there’s some lack of knowledge on behalf of some of the city members about that.”

The city hasn’t yet filed a response in writing to Attitude Wellness/Lume’s filing, Philipps said.

“Our action actually now is in default status. The city has not filed an answer to that action and we just wanted to note that for the record,” Philipps said.

Philipps also pointed out the marijuana ordinance’s six-month time period for retailers to be operational from the date their license was issued could be a problem. “The problem that I think a lot of us in the industry are going to have, we’re encountering unanticipated delays. The way the ordinance is written, it leaves it solely as a matter of discretion to the city as to whether or not to extend that timeframe for that construction,” Philipps said.

“We’re not asking for a blank check for our facility, but we’re thinking that perhaps you should look at language of other ordinances around the state that have criteria, for instance, has there been a diligent effort, has there been a delay that’s been caused by something beyond the control of the applicant. We’d be very happy to provide sample language from other municipalities.”

On Thursday, Philipps told the EagleHerald he spoke as a member of the public at the city council meeting. “That was really in response to a comment from one of the council members that appeared in the media. I was there really not in a legal capacity, just to strictly make public comment and let council members know if they have any questions they certainly can contact us.”

During the meeting, the council awarded Spies Library about $9,273 for a professional audio-visual area in the library. The funds will come from a donation the library received from the Klar bequest. Loren William Klar was a 1939 graduate of Menominee High School and served as a combat bomber pilot in World War II with the U.S. Army Air Force and as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve. He is buried in Menominee and left a gift of $3.8 million to the city, including $1.9 million for Spies Library.

The funds approved Tuesday will be used for a new audio-visual room where movies and special programming can be held. Library director Blair Nelson spoke briefly before the council. He hopes the project will double the existing capacity of 35 people in an A/V area by having a wall removed.

Council members approved the use of the funds for the library without opposition. Council members Dennis Klitzke, Josh Jones and Steve Fifarek were absent from the meeting.

The council approved without discussion an ordinance amending the 2021-2022 operating budget. Among the changes to the $12.18 million budget published in the agenda were about $665,751 in additional funds for the $4.6 million wastewater project.

Mayor Jean Stegeman said the annual holiday parade, usually held in early December, was canceled this year for lack of volunteers.