Norway plans to opt out on marijuana operations in city limits

NORWAY — City officials have taken the first step toward opting out of allowing the retail sale or production of recreational marijuana in Norway.

The Norway City Council had a first reading Monday of an ordinance that, for now, would prevent dispensaries, grow operations, processing facilities, transportation and other commercial businesses related to marijuana within city limits.

While the statewide vote Nov. 6 backed making recreational use of marijuana legal, the city of Norway came out against the move, with 641 no to 541 yes, City Manager Ray Anderson noted.

But he also recommended the new ordinance because of the lack of state guidelines for municipalities to transition to the new law.

“The state,” Anderson said, “is not prepared to handle the regulations.”

City attorney Grant Carlson acknowledged they cannot prevent personal marijuana possession on private property, saying “the voters have spoken.” But Carlson, too, called the state “woefully inadequate” in being prepared for recreational sales and production.

The Norway council will have a public hearing, likely in December, on the proposed ordinance before taking a final vote.

Answering Mayor Candy Brew, Carlson said the city can alter the ordinance later if the state develops more detailed recreational marijuana rules for municipalities.

In other business, the council Monday:

— Endorsed an audit by Scott Kenney of Crystal Falls that showed Norway dropped to a little more than $400,000 in its fund balance for 2018, after allocating more money to fix roads while water and sewer projects were done. Though still enough to keep city operations going for 61 days in case of emergency, Kenney recommended the amount be built back up to conceivably be able to cover 90 to 120 days. But overall he said figures show the municipality is in good financial shape, with no material weaknesses or deficiencies.

— Had first reading of an ordinance to regulate tourist-oriented signs on the public right-of-way. This would help meet Michigan Department of Transportation requirements for local businesses that want directional signs, Anderson said.

— Authorized an arrangement with Northern Interstate Bank of Norway to buy and install irrigation pumps for the city-owned Oak Crest Golf Course, at a cost of $99,260.52. The amount will be repaid over 10 years at 4 percent annual interest, starting in May. The work will be done by Kleiman Pump & Well Drilling Inc. of Iron Mountain.