Cass council changes the way it pays police chief, amends marijuana regulations

CASSOPOLIS — The Cassopolis Village Council approved several ordinances Monday that would pave the way to for the community to have not only medical marijuana businesses, but commercial businesses as well.

The council also approved switching how Police Chief Brian LaValle is paid at its regular meeting Monday night.

LaValle, who became police chief in 2016, had been on a contract, which allowed him to negotiate terms with the council. Following Monday night’s closed session and unanimous vote, LaValle is now considered a direct hire, which means he will now receive raises based on an annual review performed by Village Manager Emilie Sarratore.

“There is a lot of great movement and progress happening in the village right now,” Sarratore said. “The village council continues to work towards creating a community that is forward-thinking and prepared for future development opportunities that will continue to grow our community and increase our tax base.”

In other actions, the council amended several ordinances dealing with its marijuana laws.

One of the amended Article XIX, which originally dealt only with medical marijuana facilities, now covers both medical and commercial marijuana facilities.

It would allow the establishment of marijuana businesses within the village and provide standards and procedures for the review, issuance, renewal and revocation of village-issued permits for such businesses.

It would also allow the village to impose fees to defray and recover the cost to the village of administrative and enforcement costs associated with marijuana businesses.

The village of Cassopolis will begin accepting permit applications for marijuana businesses on Sept. 1. There are two stages to the process.

“Stage 1 begins with the submission of a marijuana business permit application to the village clerk’s office and concludes with the issuance of a provisional marijuana business approval certificate,” according to a document provided by the village. “Stage 2 begins when an applicant submits to the village clerk’s office a copy of a state operating license issued by the Marijuana Regulatory Agency and concludes with the issuance of a village marijuana business operating permit.”

Permits must be submitted electronically at clerk@cassopolis-mi.us. The appropriate fees must be paid within five business days of receipt of the application. If no payment is received by 5 p.m. on the fifth business day, the application will be rejected.

The council also approved the following fees associated with its marijuana business operating permits:

• Provisioning Center — $5,000

• Retailer — $5,000

• Grower (all classes) — $5,000

• Processor — $5,000

• Secure Transporter — $5,000

• Safety Compliance Facility — $5,000

• Designated Consumption Establishment — $5,000

The council also purchased four properties for $10,308.68, while it approved removing the $100 lawn cutting fees on two properties. Two more properties were taken off the tax roll as they are now village-owned.

The council heard from a group of unhappy residents who live on Lakeshore Drive in the village about how Stone Lake was treated for weeds this spring. Several people spoke out about the plan and questioned why the water in front of their property did not have weeds harvested, while other areas got more treatment.

Cassopolis Village Manager Emilie Sarratore explained how the process works and that the company contracted to do the spot treatments and weed harvesting make those decisions and not the village council or herself.

She also advised the residents that they can attend the lake board meetings, which are hosted at least twice a year. There is also an open seat on the board, which needs to be filled by a current lake property owner. Sarratore suggested they apply for the opening.

The complaints came after lake board member Ted Gogel updated the council on the treatment of Stone Lake this spring and how it was coming along. Board member Mike Grice also spoke to the residents about what he knew of the treatment this spring.

Gogel told the council that the treatment has been successful and currently is only having to do spot treatments for some invasive species, while others must be harvested with a machine.

Gogel, Grice and board member Jay Zurawski met with several of the property owners separately, while council was in the closed session to discuss the police chief’s employment status and listen to their concerns and agreed to pass them on to Progressive AE to see if they could come to a resolution.

Progressive AE is the company the village hired to treat Stone Lake.

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