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Monroe City Council’s renewed focus on cannabis stems in part from its decision last week to reject a proposed ordinance, submitted by a special interest group, regarding recreational marijuana.

A subcommittee will oversee the creation of ordinances governing marijuana facilities within the City of Monroe.

Community Development Director Jeffrey Green made the recommendation during Monday’s city council work session.

Although no formal decision was made, council was in agreement that they’d like to see a subcommittee formed to oversee the crafting of any legislation related to marijuana facilities.

Meeting video:

“I think we need to be clear and be organized in our process, and the adoption of this ordinance,” said Councilwoman Michelle Germani. “I think the committee is a great idea moving forward. That way we will be more organized, and make a smart decision in a smart way.”

The city’s renewed focus on cannabis stems in part from council’s decision last week to reject a proposed ordinance, submitted by a special interest group, that sought to authorize and regulate businesses selling recreational marijuana. (See news report)

City Manager Vince Pastue said at the time that the proposed ordinance was missing several key components necessary for this type of land use legislation, and that city administration would be creating its own ordinance to address the issue.

Green said that his office has been working with the city manager over the past few weeks to put together a basic framework of the type of ordinances that the city will need as it looks to address this controversial industry.

He said that the subcommittee is the first step in that process.

“What the committee will also do is begin to vet the regulatory language of the ordinances, and kind of coordinate with the Citizen’s Planning Commission (CPC),” Green explained. “ What we’re looking at is probably at least two separate pieces of legislation, maybe a third.”

Green said the first ordinance will govern the marijuana facilities themselves, including the number and types of facilities that will be allowed to operate within city limits, the methods of license applications, insurance requirements, and other regulatory factors.

A zoning ordinance would then cover things like site plan applications, the required minimum distance from special uses such as residential neighborhoods, schools, parks, religious institutions, libraries and substance abuse facilities, and buffering and screening requirements.

“We may go as far as looking at an overlay district for something like this, but we don’t know that yet,” Green said. “The third piece of this process would be the selection criteria, which may also be a separate ordinance or separate piece of legislation, or could be wrapped into the others…

“It’s a competitive process that (council) sets up, and ultimately the decision for that will come back to city council for who is going to get these licenses, or types of uses or types of process that the city, if it chooses to go forth with this, will allow.”

The subcommittee will likely include Mayor Robert Clark, the city manager, at least one council member, Police Chief Charles McCormick IV, and representatives from the city’s planning and building departments.

Pastue said that he will prepare a resolution appointing the subcommittee for council to vote on, an action that could be completed as soon as the council’s next meeting on Aug. 31.

“Jeff and I said we think we can move this along, and probably in four months have something close to being wrapped up,” Pastue told council. “If we start the first of September, we can have something in place for council to act upon by the end of the calendar year.”

Clark acknowledged that some residents are unhappy with the city’s timeline for addressing this issue.

“I heard there were some concerns and comments on social media that were not favorable,” he said. “The actions being taken move (us) forward so that we can have that dialogue.

“Developing this subcommittee means we’ll have input that will address all the needs of the citizens of the City of Monroe.”

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