Proposed marijuana orders to be reviewed in November | New

A set of ordinances that would allow the establishment of marijuana facilities in Ludington are making their way through to final city approvals.

Ludington City Manager Mitch Foster on Friday released draft ordinance changes, maps and a scoring rubric that will be used to determine the types of marijuana facilities that will be permitted.

The city’s ad hoc committee on marijuana has offered a similar plan to several other cities in the state, Foster told the Daily News on Monday morning.

“We looked at Marquette, Traverse City, Lowell and Grand Rapids to kind of build the docs,” Foster said. “We took some in Manistee. Lowell is similar in size (to Ludington) so we sort of took them. Traverse City, Marquette and Grand Rapids made it easy to borrow directly from them.

The town has received “a lot” of interest from parties looking to start a business in Ludington, Foster said.

“We get calls from California, Colorado, Detroit,” Foster said. “It’s really general in nature. They weren’t as explicit as (to what type of business).

The package not only affects marijuana retail outlets, but also growers, processors, secure carriers and safety compliance facilities.

“A number of committee members were asked to see if they would prefer non-commercial (as well as) retail options,” Foster said. “The committee wanted to be as creative as possible.

Retail establishments would be permitted in the C1 or Old Town Business zoning areas; C2 general retail trade; maritime trading areas; and the waterfront maritime district, according to the draft ordinances. Producers, Processors, Secure Carriers, Security Compliance, and Surplus Producers would only be permitted in the Wholesale and Light Industrial Manufacturing District or the Heavy Industrial Manufacturing District.

“It doesn’t include consumerism, micro-enterprises or events,” Foster said.

Any marijuana business cannot be within 500 feet of a school or daycare. However, if a daycare or school started a business within 500 feet of an already established marijuana business, the marijuana business would not lose its ability to operate.

The ordinances also require a distance of 500 feet between marijuana establishments. Foster said he was working on mapping to see how many marijuana businesses might be within the city limits.

“The number we have from one business or interested party was that the City of Ludington could run three to five retail facilities, and they didn’t know the number of other (businesses),” said Foster.

The proposed orders require employees to be at least 21 years old and not be found guilty of supplying or distributing controlled substances to minors, as well as a general background check. Guests at establishments must also be 21 years of age or older.

Marijuana cannot be consumed on the premises of these businesses, nor alcohol or tobacco.

Getting the business started, Foster said, was a two-part process. He said prospective companies must either have a license from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs or have the ability to obtain a license from the LARA. The proposed order explicitly states that a state license must be obtained first.

“They have to show that they have pre-qualification from LARA, from the marijuana commission,” Foster said.

The potential business must then go through the city process. Part of the process is getting a special land use permit for the business through the city, and the other part is getting the license from the city. The marijuana license is $5,000 and is due to the city each year.

The process includes a scoring rubric for each applicant to complete, and it’s weighted toward companies that already have experience in the industry.

“In the scoring rubric, for the city (to have control), there are two categories where they have experience in the business or experience in a similar business,” Foster said. “These have higher point values.”

The order sets out an appeal process for companies that have a license but are about to lose it. However, for new license applicants, Foster said an applicant will need to work with the city to meet rubric requirements, increase the score and be eligible for license approval.

“Because it’s early, due to the scoring rubric, to fix the remedy (in the scoring), there’s really no need (for a call) from the app itself,” said said Foster.

Foster said the planning commission will pick up the zoning portion of the new ordinances in November. It provides for a first reading of the ordinances by the municipal council during the ordinary meeting of November 14 with a second reading on November 28.

When could the first applicants apply for their license? Foster said he wasn’t sure, but thought the process could go the same way as for short-term rentals in the city. There was a period of time after the ordinances were passed allowing short-term rentals and licensees to apply. These dates are not fixed.