Madison city council takes up issue of marijuana dispensaries in the city
By Maria Rakoczy
MADISON – At Monday night’s Madison City Council meeting, the council heard a first reading of an ordinance authorizing the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, and they passed further items facilitating the construction of new westbound ramps on I-565 into and out of Town Madison.
The ordinance regarding dispensaries will require applicable business licenses for future dispensaries. Those interested in applying for such license are required to already possess a location for their business and must apply by December 31 of this year. Director of Development Services, Mary Beth Broeren, shared the planning department has not received word of land being acquired for the purpose of building a dispensary, but the department has been in contact with cultivators acquiring land in the Madison area.
Concerns were raised in public comments surrounding potential dangers related to the emergence of medical marijuana dispensaries. The concerned citizens cited precedent in Colorado and the results of some scientific studies that indicate detrimental effects from marijuana use in areas allowing dispensaries.
Some discussion ensued among the council with questions about the practical enforcement and implications of the proposed ordinance considering the approaching deadline and lack of qualifying applicants.
“I’m just wondering if we need to vote, if it’s even going to be possible for a business to have property by December 31 in a stand-alone, secure building. or is it something we should table,” council member Maura Wroblewski questioned.
The council ultimately decided to go forward with the vote on this proposed ordinance as planned at the next council meeting on Dec. 19.
Three additional first readings were also presented. The first proposed ordinance will increase general penalties for misdemeanors in municipal court. The second will allow for the virtual participation in meetings of a council member with a contagious illness, and the third proposed ordinance will authorize warrants or bonds for construction work of the westbound I-565 ramps.
Featured under department reports was a change order from McInnis Construction LLC and Miller & Miller Inc. increasing the cost of the construction of the westbound interstate ramps by $260,000. The resolution was approved by the council.
The annual Christmas parade was another popular topic at the meeting. Concern was raised by Main Street Café owner Tammy Hall surrounding the moving of the annual Christmas parade from downtown to Hughes Road. Hall, on behalf of the businesses downtown, asked the council to consider moving the parade to the downtown area once again to aid the visibility of those businesses.
The last Madison Christmas Parade held in the downtown area was in 2019. The city decided to change to parade route to Hughes Drive last year to allow crowds attending the parade to have more room to spread out due to COVID.
“We hear you guys loud and clear when it comes to the parade. We respect what you’re saying when it comes to safety. We also listen to our police chief, our fire chief, and our recreation head. We do want to find that balance,” Madison Mayor Paul Finley responded. “We will take it into account for next year where to have it and how to have it.”
Councilman Teddy Powell, whose district includes the downtown area, expressed his and the council’s commitment to the prosperity of downtown, “To not have the parade downtown next year, I think, is an injustice to all those people that work with the downtown businesses,” he said.
Finley and Powell assured Hall that the council will seriously consider relocation to the downtown area in planning for next year’s parade.
Other items addressed by the council included the following:
- Authorization of final payment to Rogers Group, Inc. of just over $22,000 for work performed on the widening of Short Street.
- Authorization of payment to Barge Design Solutions, Inc of $6,832.50 for work performed in improvement projects on the intersection of Wall Triana and I-565.
- Authorization of the exchange of equipment, including a drone, for the Police Department
- Ordinance presented by Councilmember Wroblewski prohibiting parking on a median in the Walden Glen community near Browns Ferry Road.
- Reappointments of Charles Nola and Gerald Clark to the Madison Station Historic Preservation Commission and Brenda Buschmann to the Zoning Board of Adjustment and Appeals.
- Resolution authorizing the archiving and publishing of records from the council’s work session on November 30
- Authorizing the purchase of shade structures for Kids Kingdom for $70,901.51.
Aside from routine items, the council celebrated promotions within Madison Fire and Rescue and the outstanding performance of small businesses in the city. Madison Fire Chief David Bailey was present at the meeting to award promotions at a badge pinning ceremony. The ceremony acknowledged promotions from both years of 2021 and 2022.
Madison Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michelle Epling attended the meeting to present the local businesses who were recently honored by the 2022 Alabama Small Business of the Year Awards. The awards recognize small businesses statewide. Business winners from Madison included Virtuoso Realty, Investor’s Resources, and Signalink . Pamela Bass of Virtuous Realty placed bronze, Shari Burnum of Investor’s Resources won silver, and Alice and Steve Lessmann of Signalink also placed silver each in their respective categories.
The next city council meeting will be Dec. 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the city council chambers of the Madison City Hall, 100 Hughes Drive.