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Medical pot pushed to back burner

POLSON — Opponents and proponents of an emergency moratorium on medical marijuana spoke at the Polson City Commission meeting on March 15. The meeting began at 7 p.m. and discussion began as soon as the proposed agenda was approved.

Polson City Todd Crossett said the recommendation from staff was to do a blanket moratorium on medical marijuana for six months.

Polson Police Chief Doug Chase said law enforcement had concerns about major storefront operations. Attention should be paid to “location, location, location,” Chase said. 

Dispensaries shouldn’t be near schools. Chase also wondered about locations in the downtown business community. 

Chase would like the city to require major medical marijuana businesses to have an alarm system.

“I would prefer a bona fide alarm system with a bona fide company,” Chase said.

A sample of opinions included:

Preston Johnson spoke in opposition to the moratorium. Johnson said the city should do more research before “we jump the gun.” 

A moratorium would send local business to out-of-town dispensaries according to Johnson. He urged the city to find out what other cities and states, such as Oregon, have done.

Commissioner Elsa Duford said the word marijuana just freaks some people out. Duford said she would like for the public and the commissioners to have time to stop and think about the issue. 

Caregiver James Dale said people have had problems getting their medical marijuana. The demand is way more than the supply he added. 

Commissioners approved the emergency moratorium on medical marijuana for six months but amended the wording so the moratorium would not affect caregivers with one or two patients.

An agenda item to schedule a workshop for March 29—purchase of Meridian Building for wastewater treatment plant was defeated. 

Crossett and Polson Water and Sewer Superintendent Tony Porrazzo visited a micro filtration membrane treatment plant in Manhattan and spoke with an engineer who built the plant and is also a part time operator. The engineer had built 30 plants of this kind around the world and would come explain the plant at the March 29 workshop.  

Commissioner John Campbell brought up asking for a study from Great West Engineering at the Jan. 20 meeting. Campbell said the study had been sitting at city hall, and the commissioners had not received it.  

Crossett said the information would have been included in the packet for the workshop on March 29, “the most complete information all at one time.”

After discussion, Mayor Pat DeVries said, “I really want to see the numbers all in one place.”

Commissioner Ron Boyce said he felt the commissioners had been pushed to buy the Tamsco building. He would like to make a decision just from the information. 

During public comment, local realtor Tim McGinnis asked the commissioners why they are fighting moving it (the wastewater treatment plant) to the Meridian building.

The commission will receive the packet of information and will decide the wastewater treatment plant location at the next citycommission meeting.

In other business, the commissioners approved: 

• the second reading of Ordinance #655, to amend Ordinance #523 to allow a 20 year rebate period.

• the city/rural fire district interlocal contract

• February cash report

During city manager comments, Crossett reported the Main Street waterline project is ahead of schedule. Streetscape construction will probably start after Labor Day, Crossett said. The city street sweeper is being repaired, but the State of Montana has been helping out until repairs are completed. 

The food and beverage manager position garnered 13 resumes, and the Polson City Engineer generated 11 requests for proposals. Since the positions closed on March 12, the candidates’ information has not been reviewed. 

People may apply for the golf board until March 19, Crossett said. 

The next commission meeting will be held on April 5 at 7 p.m. in city commission chambers at Polson City Hall. 

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