Village Council Delays Authorizing Retail Marijuana Sales

oath vix vc
Carl Keller, Julie Merrill and Rick Holmes are sworn in at the December Vicksburg Village Council meeting.

By Sue Moore

Marijuana Resolution Decision

The Vicksburg Village Council voted what amounts to a wait-and-see approach on whether it should license companies to grow and sell marijuana. Retail sales of pot were approved by the voters in November in the state of Michigan.

The ordinance the council passed lets the village government make a more informed decision. It would do this by listening and surveying residents, conducting public meetings and keeping people informed via their website. A decision could be made in January 2020 on an ordinance, Village Manager Jim Mallery told the trustees.

“There are too many unknowns right now,” Mallery said. “The safest way right now is to opt out. We can always come back in. The state doesn’t have its guardrails – rules and regulations – out yet.”

Air Scrubber to Reduce Odor

Complaints have been received about the odor emanating from the Van Elderen manufacturing plant in the Leja Industrial Park. Mallery said he had met with the owners who have committed to implementing an air scrubber that they purchased from a plant in South Carolina. It arrived in Vicksburg with some parts damage which has slowed the installation. A crane will be brought on site to install the scrubber in the facility. It promises to reduce the odor. The owners from Martin, Mich. want to be good citizens, Mallery said. Trustee Reisterer said the odor was so strong near her property on Michigan Avenue that it sometimes makes her sick.

Hears Brownfield Information

Three presenters laid out plans for a Transformational Brownfield plan for the Mill property on W Avenue. Rachel Grover, resource coordinator for Kalamazoo County’s planning and development department, explained the next steps necessary for the village to take with the brownfield application.

She walked the council through the need for approval as part of the local units of government involvement in accepting and submitting the plan to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Lisa Philips, the environmental consultant who has worked on the project since its inception, described the amount of pollution on the site.

Significant amounts of fly ash have been found as the residue from burning coal to generate electricity. There are heavy metals in the components and volatile compounds in the soil, she said. There are vapor intrusion concerns along with a caustic pit that includes dioxins. Some of this was discharged into the creek on the east side of the building. Tax increment financing (TIF) money can be used to help clean this up. The soil can be taken off the site and moved to an all-care location.

“If nothing is done to the property than there will never be any taxes from the property,” Mallery said as he explained to the council what the money in the Transformational Brownfield plan would pay for.

Water Tower Fixes

It will cost $148,000 to do interior coating treatment to the village’s water tower in 2019, Malley told the Council. It has been six years since the interior has been worked on. There is a plan in place to serve the public so there will be no disruption of water service during the work, he said.

Redevelopment Ready Community

By authorizing a village application to become a Redevelopment Ready Community, the council set in motion a process that will take up to three years to complete. The cost connected to applying is negligible, said Village Manager Jim Mallery. He did cite some expenses that would need to be made such as an upgrade to the village’s web site, while noting his promise that the village would operate with complete transparency. It is designed to promote effective redevelopment strategies through a set of best practices. Other participating communities include Boyne City, Grayling, Grand Haven and Ferndale. These are examples of communities with a clear vision for their future and the fundamental practices in place to get there, according to the Pure Michigan website.

There are six main best practices set out by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation which oversees the application process. They include community planning, public outreach, zoning regulations, a review process, recruitment and education. Some of the village’s sub-governmental boards will be included in this best practice model; the members will need to make an application to serve on the DDA, Historic Village Committee, Parks and Recreation and the Municipal Building Authority.

There are many benefits to the community as the village goes through the process, said Trustee Tim Frisbie. “I hope we can even have the meetings live on Facebook, so the public can see that their money is being used in the best way possible.”

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