THREE OAKS — The Three Oaks Village Council on July 8 approved entering into a contract with the legal firm Kreis Enderle Hudgins & Borsos, P.C., to draft a marijuana ordinance for the village.
One of the stipulations of the motion passed unanimously by the council was to ask the firm not to represent any marijuana businesses (to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest if they were to apply for licenses from Three Oaks) for a period of six months after drafting the ordinance.
The agreement was recommended by the Planning Commission during its July 7 meeting,
Village Manager Dan Faulkner said the agreement between the village and the legal firm to draft a copy of an ordinance (a process he’s been told would take 5 to 15 hours) could be taken to next month’s Planning Commission meeting (or to its Marihuana Committee) for review.
In June the committee made the following recommendations for a village ordinance:
• Allow just one license in each of the five categories for marijuana businesses;
• Limit the location of any retail operation to U.S. 12 and at least 500 feet from the elementary school;
• Have the Village Council engage with an attorney who specializes in marijuana businesses to draft the ordinance;
• Create an advisory committee on licensing to promote community engagement of that process;
• Give preference to local owners;
• Give preference to an independent business rather than a large organization;
• Develop a points system to help make choices;
• Update and adjust zoning and regulations;
The Village Council on July 8 also heard a presentation from Berrien County Drain Commissioner Chris Quattrin on preliminary plans to help pay off a $500,000 bond related to the Schwark Drain project by selling wetland mitigation credits to developers from a wetland bank created in the 20-plus acres of woods behind Watkins Park, part of which is currently owned by the village.
Quattrin said efforts to resolve problems related to the costly Schwark Drain project included buying about 30-plus acres of property that was in the district (financed by paying off the assessment and back taxes, a move that has helped reduce assessments) with a bond that can be rolled over for about 12 years before it must be paid back (three years have already gone by).
He said a parcel of land to the north that also was part of the purchase (but not a candidate for wetlands) would likely be sold for development to help pay off the bond.
Quattrin said a wetland bank area once developed into a viable wetland and sold to a private developer for mitigation purposes is required to remain one in perpetuity.
It was the general consensus of the council to have village attorney Chuck Hilmer check into issues such as deed restrictions for the property (originally donated to the village by the Hoadley family), rules covering the village giving away land (which may involve a public vote), and issues related to public access to trails through an easement before making any decisions.
In other July 8 business, the Three Oaks Village Council:
• Approved spending up to $18,000 for a flow meter (with bids being sought) to help detect the sources of large inflows into the village’s treatment lagoons.
• Faulkner said two of three missing plaques removed from Chamberlain Path are being sought.
• Set a budget hearing for 7 p.m. Sept. 9.
• Approved trading in a 2017 Ford F-250 for a 2020 model for $6,900 through the MiDEAL program.
• Agreed to investigate having three-phase electrical service installed at the sewage treatment lagoons.
• OK’d an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to add an escrow requirement to the Schedule of Fees.