We are in a pandemic, with thousands of businesses closing, millions of folks without jobs, and millions more about to have their unemployment benefits end.
And what do our City Council and Zoning Board of Appeals members do?
Say “no” to one of the few business ventures that is experiencing a boom.
At a special city council meeting Tuesday night, four out of six councilmembers voted to take the first step in banning legal marijuana operations from setting up their business here.
Last week, three out of six ZBA members rejected a zoning variance for a business venture on Caniff Ave. that is next to a gasoline station, right off of I-75.
(One ZBA member inexplicably abstained in the vote, which is usually reserved only for when a member has a conflict of interest.)
That variance request was to allow a building that is zoned residential to be rezoned for commercial use. Why it is zoned only for residential is a mystery.
The building was clearly built only for commercial use was once a laundromat, and then a computer/cellphone store. It has been vacant for a number of years.
The reason for the rejection?
Because it was believed, by some members, that the building would then become a retail outlet for legal recreational marijuana sales.
What are these decisions being based on?
Outdated fears that they would attract crime, or somehow entice children to become marijuana users.
Those debunked arguments are simply hogwash.
These retail marijuana outlets are more like boutiques that sell cannabis products at premium prices.
The folks who shop at these places are not your stereotypical neighborhood shady drug characters. These folks come to purchase their product, and then get in their cars and go elsewhere.
Oh, where might that elsewhere likely be?
Besides going home, it would be our local restaurants – well, at least the ones that can survive this latest COVID quarantine – shops, and other establishments.
A bare majority of council and ZBA members are having a kneejerk reaction to what they perceive to be widespread community opposition.
Whether you like it or not, the marijuana business is legal in the state – just like bars and liquor stores.
And just like those businesses, it employs local residents.
With many restaurants may now be on the verge of closing down permanently, we are going to have a lot of folks in town scrambling for good-paying jobs.
With these actions, they are going to be denied those jobs, and more residents are going to be experiencing extreme financial hardships – and maybe even homelessness.
The city also needs all the tax revenue it can get, now that voters rejected a way to fund the city’s fire and police pension obligations, and also turned down ballot proposals that would have allowed the city council to explore ways to provide police and fire services at a lower cost.
It seems some in the community are determined to bankrupt the city.
These are tough financial times, and they call for true leadership – which requires making difficult decisions in the face of perceived opposition.
Instead, we have community leaders taking the easy way out, and being cowed by the loudest voices.
Posted Nov. 20, 2020