The plan to formally adopt an ordinance that would allow the establishment of marijuana facilities in the city of Memphis was tabled and sent on to the city’s planning commission at a recent meeting.
The council had the first reading of Ordinance #209 on Aug. 4, and it was approved by officials in a 5-2 vote. Mayor Kurt Marter, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Schneider and council members Kenneth Reilly, Scott Stoops and Jason Sopha were in favor of the ordinance, while council members Larry Wilson and Roberta Mazur were opposed.
Schneider took on the task of researching all the rules and regulations for establishing an ordinance and then met with the city attorney and an advisory committee to create the 16-page proposed document. He acknowledged that in all the planning he skipped the step that meant having the planning commission set up a plan for where the establishments will be located in the city.
“They have to look at it and decide will some be in the business district, and then the growers have to be in industrial zoning areas, so it’s just establishing the zoning,” Schneider said.
Wilson, who previously said he’s done extensive research on the subject and it’s not something he wants to support for the city, is the one who informed the council the planning commission needs to look at the plan.
“It’s really just a formality and routine because the council has the ultimate say, but it’s how we’ve always done things, taking them to the planning commission, so I thought it was important here,” Wilson said in a phone interview after the Sept. 1 meeting.
When officials were looking over the ordinance in August, the mayor said the fact that the state has so many of the rules and regulations in place already made him comfortable moving forward with a city ordinance.
At that time the council agreed that the number allowed would be one license for each type of business including a lab, a retail place, a testing lab, a growth operation or a secure transporter. Each license cost $5,000 annually, payable to the city, and the money coming into the city from state tax revenue could be $1,700 to $2,000 a month.
Schneider strongly supports the plan because it’s a way for the city to bring in some much-needed revenue, and the establishments are heavily regulated through the state. Plus, if things don’t go as planned, the city can amend the ordinance or remove it from their books with a simple majority vote of the council.
Seeing the plan set aside for another 30 days for the planning commission meeting isn’t something Schneider anticipated. He said the planning commission can make a recommendation to the council about adopting the ordinance but even if they are against it a majority of the council can still approve it and put it on the books.
Once the city council approves the ordinance the city can begin taking applications for marijuana establishments.
Even though it appears a majority of the council will approve it, Wilson still isn’t sold on the idea.
“Maybe I’m just an old guy but out of good conscious I just can’t vote to have something like that in our small town,” Wilson said. “It might be OK for bigger towns but not here.”
Barb Pert Templeton is a freelance reporter. She can be contacted at email@example.com.