By Ralph Echtinaw
City council introduced an ordinance Tuesday that will prohibit the sale of marijuana (recreational and medical) in St. Louis.
A public hearing on the ordinance was set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, at the next council meeting.
Although Michigan voters legalized recreational marijuana last November, municipalities have the option to opt out when it comes to stores that sell recreational and medical marijuana.
NOT enacting an ordinance IS an option, but that would make the city wide open for marijuana stores, said City Manager Kurt Giles.
Council seems unanimous in favor of keeping marijuana stores out of St. Louis, at least for now.
“(Marijuana merchants) can’t even use a bank,” Mayor James C. Kelly said. “That’s crazy.”
“There are no good rules in place because of that ballot initiative,” said Councilman George T. Kubin. “So we’ve been really skeptical. We should just opt out of it until better rules are in place. Maybe in the future the ordinance could be rescinded if it needs to be.”
Police Chief Richard J. Ramereiz Jr.: “There’s proposed legislation being introduced from two different groups to modify and change the ballot language as it was passed; taking away things, adding things. So it’s still going to be a muddy mess of things. About the time we try to halfway get it understood and think we know it it’s going to get changed.”
New water main
Council awarded a water main replacement job on Pine Street from M-46 to Michigan Avenue and along Michigan Avenue from Pine to Hazel to Wards Excavating of St. Louis for $405,000.
Work is expected to take place this year. Digging up the street will be kept to a minimum.
Other bids came from Champagne & Marx ($700,000), Rohde Brothers Excavating ($610,000), The Isabella Corporation ($577,000), Crawford ($526,000), Malley Construction ($516,000) and McGuirk Sand-Gravel ($497,000).
Pool house renovation
Council approved paying Freed Construction $68,693 for exterior renovations to the W. T. Morris Memorial Swimming Pool House on North Mill Street with the understanding that administrators will meet with Kevin Jerome of Freed Construction to get that price down a bit.
For example, the bid from Freed cites removing windows as part of the job, but that will be done by Mid-State Asbestos Removal of St. Louis. So the price can come down a bit on that account.
“We recommend the award to Freed Construction with authorization to negotiate changes to reduce the scope and price,” Giles said.
Once the job is done the pool house will have new windows, doors and a west exterior wall that resembles city hall.
There was one other bidder on the project, as DeShano Companies of Gladwin bid $86,225 to do the same work.
Parks and Recreation
Council approved the appointment of Kristy L. Hardy to parks and recreation board.
“My husband and I both grew up in St. Louis and are raising our three kids here,” Hardy wrote in a letter requesting the appointment. “I am the supervisor of the deposit operations department at Mercantile Bank of Michigan. I have been with the bank for going on 15 years this summer. I am a committed person. When I am passionate about something I like to go all in. Our family enjoys going for walks and frequently visiting the many parks we have in our small town. It’s amazing how many hidden gems we have in our city. I would enjoy being part of the board to give back to my community. I want to get more involved with keeping our town beautiful and the parks up to date for our children (not just mine) to play at and be safe.”
Greenland Place Apartments
Council voted to deny a request from Greenland Place Apartments (on Michigan Avenue just south of M-46) to renew a tax break that was granted in 2003.
“if they wanted a 30-year PILOT on that in lieu of taxes that should have been set up to begin with,” Giles said.
Mayor Kelly added: “When we agreed to 15 years I was on the council, and I thought we were more than generous, and I don’t see extending it.”
There are two open seats on the city council this year, as Jerry Church and Melissa A. Allen have chosen not to seek reelection.
If you would like to get your name on the ballot you can pick up petitions at city hall. You will need 26 signatures of registered voters who live in the city on your petition to get on the ballot. However, City Clerk Mari Anne Ryder recommends getting 30 signatures to be safe, as some may turn out to live outside the city limits or not be registered voters.
The filing deadline is 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 23.
To date, Bill Leonard, 73, Don Dean, 70, and this reporter, 59, have pulled petitions.
The position of mayor is on the ballot this year, too. Mayor James C. Kelly is running for re-election, so far unopposed.
Council members are paid $700 per year and $35 per meeting.