March 18 2013 12:00 AM

A cap and fees are set; the Council agrees to balance last fiscal year’s budget

Tuesday, July 12 — After more than an hour of debating what a fair cap on the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city should be, the Lansing City Council voted Monday to keep the number at what was proposed all along: 48.

A resolution to cap the number of dispensaries and establish application fees passed 5-3 Monday, with Council members Brian Jeffries, Eric Hewitt and Carol Wood voting against — all because they thought 48 was too many.

At one point, At-Large Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar offered a compromise cap at 40. However, that amendment failed 4-4 as Jeffries, Hewitt and Wood voted against it, along with At-Large Councilman Derrick Quinney, who said earlier in the meeting: “Anything lower than what we have in the resolution I can’t favor that.”

Quinney attempted to “call the question” twice, which would have brought an immediate vote and ended discussion, but both attempts failed.

As of Monday’s meeting, City Clerk Chris Swope said 35 dispensaries had applied for preliminary applications. Eight more applied by 5 p.m. today, Swope said in an e-mail.

Jeffries suggested capping the number at 33 or 35 based on the number of applications sent in since June 28 and “reducing that number that would reflect in 12 months the number that would not be able to continue to exist because of the (zoning and buffering) requirements in the ordinance,” he said.

Though Jeffries’ suggestion never came as a formal amendment, Hewitt suggested capping the number 40 this year and for each year after that, subtracting 10 percent of the total number allowed until it reached “11 or 12.”

Hewitt’s motion for a “rolling cap” failed 7-1 — he was the only one who supported it.

Wood reminded the Council that the resolution sunsets in a year and that, “Looking at Council member Jeffries’ considerations, if we look at 33 and put a cap of licenses at 15 or 20 we could take a look at that in a year.”

In other business, the Council voted 6-2 on a resolution to use $1 million from the city’s Budget Stabilization Fund to balance the fiscal year 2011 budget, which ended June 30. Reserves have dropped by $5 million since fiscal year 2009, but so far reserves have been taken from the General Fund. Monday’s resolution uses 12.6 percent of the city’s reserves to balance the last fiscal year’s budget.

The Council approved three other resolutions at Monday’s meeting:

  • Rescheduling a public hearing from July 18 to July 25 on the city’s proposed bicycle parking ordinance.

  • Recognizing the Vietnamese American Buddhist Association of Lansing for the grand opening of its temple July 17. The association has spent six years renovating “a small Baptist Church into a Traditional Vietnamese Buddhist Temple.”

  • Approving an application to display fireworks on July 4 (a week after it already happened).