|Marijuana issue resurfaces at City Council|
|Written by Holyoke Enterprise|
With a coordinated ballot approaching in the fall, Holyoke City Council members are once again facing the dilemma of how to approach the city’s stance on marijuana. While at the Tuesday, July 1, meeting, the council revisited an ordinance from 2012 to determine if it will go to a vote in the fall or be shelved until 2016.
In December of 2012, an ordinance was adopted that prohibited the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities or retail marijuana stores within the city. It also stated that the issue would be up for vote on the November 2014 coordinated ballot.
City Attorney Al Wall noted that if the city does not want to include a question for the topic on the ballot, they could amend the original ordinance to push it back to 2016. If they choose to include it on the 2014 ballot, Wall suggested that council members add the issue to the July 15 meeting agenda to discuss how to move forward.
“I will voice my opinion,” Mayor Orville Tonsing stated. “I for one think we just ought to amend it and push it off for two years. More and more of the problems are getting resolved and a guy would know a lot more about how we are going to move ahead with this.”
The council has until Aug. 28 to submit a ballot question to Phillips County Clerk & Recorder Beth Zilla to be included on the November ballot.
Duplex plans taking shape
Ross Brinkema attended Tuesday’s meeting to inform council members of his plans to build a duplex building south of Johnson Street on a continuation of Worley Avenue.
Brinkema requested a subdivision exemption so he could split the large parcel of land into three. His plan is to build one duplex now, with the other two lots to be used in the future to expand and build more.
He noted that he has received a lot of interest in the projects and would like to build more to fill a need for homes and rentals in the area. Brinkema hopes to begin soon as the future residents have expressed the desire to move in by Christmas.
Brinkema also expressed his intent to continue Worley Avenue by adding curbs and gutters and cementing the street to the proposed location of the duplex.
The preliminary plat was accepted by council members, but a subdivision exemption will not be necessary until after the first building has been built.
City Superintendent Mark Brown reported that since the June 17 meeting, there had been 12 calls for power outages, most of which were due to the storms.
Street crews have been busy patching streets and cleaning up after storms. Brown noted that Triple J Tree Service, Inc. has been hired to remove damaged trees in City Park.
Brown also notified council members that a resident had been accruing electric bill charges for two houses since October of 2010 due to complications from relocating a meter.
The resident was also a Low Income Energy Assistance Program participant, meaning the Phillips County Department of Social Services would also have to be reimbursed for the overages.
In total, the city agreed to reimburse the resident $2,849.90 and the county $927.47.
Holyoke Police Chief Doug Bergstrom reported that from June 13-25, the department received 53 calls for service, made two arrests, wrote five reports and issued five warnings. Under code enforcement, there were two animal violations, one dog at large, one tree ordinance violation and one miscellaneous ordinance violation.
Bergstrom also reported that during that time, the department was involved in one mental health situation as well. Several other county agencies were called for assistance.
Bergstrom also noted that Officer Dwight Thompson recently sustained an off-duty injury that required surgery. He will be out for roughly one month.
In other business July 1, the council:
—approved a special events permit and waived local fees for Phillips County Fair Board to have a beer garden July 25-26.
—agreed to pay $812.50 to participate with Phillips County in a feasibility study for an industrial park through the Department of Local Affairs.
—held a 25-minute executive session following Tuesday’s meeting for a conference with the city attorney to receive legal advice.
Holyoke Enterprise July 10, 2014