Planners still looking at curbside service changes for marijuana shops

BIG RAPIDS — The Big Rapids planning commission took no action on a proposal to make changes to the city’s ordinance regulating marijuana sales and dispensing, saying they need more time to consider the issue.

“I am not in a hurry to make a decision about this topic,” chairperson Chris Jane told the planners during a recent meeting. “There have been times over the last couple of years where we thought we wish we had a do-over.”

During the meeting, Paula Priebe, the city’s community development director, told planners that in establishing the regulations for marijuana businesses, the city had adopted a series of ordinances to allow for some types of marijuana businesses and disallow others. But when the pandemic hit a lot of that was “shook up a bit,” she added.

Priebe and city attorney Eric Williams have been compiling a list of things that needed to be tweaked, she said.

“We have had a couple of years of the ordinances being in effect and could see what we got right and what we might need to tweak a little bit,” Priebe said. “Most of those are procedural things — making sure the terminology is the same across all ordinances, however, there is one substantive change that is being proposed.”

Priebe explained the current ordinance, as it is written, does not allow any drive-thru, drive-up or curbside services.

“Those were all prohibited in the ordinance that was adopted in 2019,” she said. “Then the pandemic happened and every business across every sector started doing curbside pick up for the public health and safety. The state allowed it, and so the city has been allowing it, and it has been allowed for marijuana businesses to engage in curbside service.”

She said she has informed all the marijuana business owners that they were operating under emergency rules and at some point the city would have to circle back and address the issue in the ordinance.

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