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Billings City Council postpones vote on medical marijuana storefronts

Billings City Council postpones vote on medical marijuana storefronts

  • Updated

The City Council voted 9-1 on Tuesday night to postpone a final vote on an ordinance that would ban storefront medical marijuana businesses after city staff advised council members that a hearing on the issue wasn't advertised to the public.

City administrator Tina Volek said that because there wasn't notice of a public hearing, it would be prudent to move the vote to the Oct. 24 meeting.

Councilman Vince Ruegamer asked if it was necessary to open the topic up for a public hearing since the council has heard from many speakers already on the issue.

"It's an item of significant public interest," Volek replied.

On July 5, the council passed a 90-day ban on medical marijuana storefronts, with prohibited visible displays of marijuana and related products, as well as portrayals of marijuana on the exterior of buildings housing medical marijuana businesses.

Volek reminded the council that it would also be reconsidering on Oct. 24 a moratorium on new medical marijuana businesses in Billings, passed by the council in the spring of 2010 and extended for a year later that fall.

In other news, the council unanimously approved a tax abatement for All American Pharmaceuticals, at 2376 Main St. The company is working on a $2 million, 33,000-square-foot expansion to its building.

A company spokesman told the council that the building is full, necessitating the expansion, and that they plan to employ 12 people in that warehouse when the expansion is finished.

Councilwoman Peggy Gaghen congratulated All American Pharmaceutical on being a "great success" as a Billings company that has expanded beyond a local market.

The tax abatement program encourages work on existing buildings and businesses by making the improvements' value exempt from some property taxes for four years following construction.

The council also approved a resolution that authorizes making energy efficient improvements to Billings Logan International Airport and three of the four city-owned parking garages.

The nearly $1.4 million in improvements to the airport will include lighting and system upgrades while the parking garages will see lighting upgrades. Those upgrades will save an estimated $307,000 in the first three years at the airport and $151,000 over the same time with the garages.

The council's vote included approval of a contract with build and design firm McKinstry and authorization of a lease-purchase agreement with U.S. Bank to pay for the work.





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