Ann Arbor City Council meeting (Aug. 5, 2010): Around 75 people packed into city council chambers on Thursday night to hear council deliberations on a marijuana-related moratorium. The item had been added to the council’s agenda late the previous day – and the issue had received no discussion or mention by city officials at any previous open meeting.
The measure as initially drafted by city attorney Stephen Postema would have halted all dispensing and growing of medical marijuana in the city. The moratorium came in response to the operation of some dispensaries and cultivation of marijuana in the city after the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act of 2008 was approved by Michigan voters.
In 2004, Postema had argued that the city’s charter amendment, which allows medical uses of marijuana and was approved by voters that year, was not enforceable, and said that people would continue to be prosecuted as before.
Several of the attendees addressed the council during public commentary, all opposing the moratorium. During deliberations, councilmembers made significant amendments to Postema’s proposal that took off some of its harsher edges. Amendments to Postema’s moratorium included a specific exemption for patients and caregivers, a grandfathering-in of existing facilities in the city and a reduction in the length of moratorium from 180 to 120 days. The milder version of the measure, when unanimously approved, was met with applause from the audience.
In other significant business, the council: approved the site plan for a new downtown residential development, Zaragon Place 2; authorized an extension on Village Green’s purchase option agreement for the First and Washington parcel where the City Apartments PUD is planned; gave initial first-reading approval to a ban on placement of couches on porches and other outdoor environments; and approved a change to the site plan approval process that replaces definite deadlines with a standard of “reasonable time.”
Mayor John Hieftje also placed recently-retired county administrator Bob Guenzel’s name before the council as a nomination to the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board. He clarified that Guenzel would be replacing Jennifer S. Hall, whose term expired on July 31.
Council typically meets on Mondays, but moved its meeting to Thursday to accommodate the Aug. 3 primary election. All council incumbents who were running for reelection won their races.