Flint, MI–The Flint City Council voted June 17 to schedule and hold a public hearing on the potential rezoning of Raspberries Rhythm Bar & Grill to allow for a marijuana dispensary.

The council was divided on whether to approve the hearing. Some members said they’d received several calls from constituents ranging from approval to disapproval about rezoning the downtown location.

“You know the public hearing process is a good process because we can hear different views, different perspectives,” Councilperson Jerri Winfrey-Carter said. “But I don’t even know if we want to open this up. This is terrible. I’ve done some research and I can’t find a city that has a dispensary in the downtown area. Our downtown area should be inviting for family activities.”

Councilman Herbert Winfrey said a hearing needed to be held to get the public’s opinion and reevaluate the City’s original decision on rezoning. The planning commission rejected rezoning the property after local businessman Phil Shaltz presented the idea to the commission May 25.

“I want the public to have the benefit to talk to us about what it is they would like to see and why,” Councilperson Winfrey said. “I want to look at what is it that we didn’t do right, or what is it that we miss when we rezoned it the way that we rezoned it the first time.”

Regardless of councilmembers’ or residents’ opinions, Director of Planning and Development Suzanne Wilcox told the council that holding a public hearing is mandatory.

“This is an ordinance requirement. It is required that a public hearing be held, and the proper time to have that dialogue about whether this rezoning is appropriate or not is actually at the public hearing,” Wilcox said. 

The council voted 7-1 to set a public hearing, with Winfrey-Carter casting the sole dissenting vote. 

The council also approved two appointments and several contracts at the June 17 meeting. Here’s what they voted on:

Voted to appoint Edna Sabucco to Ethics and Accountability Board

Sabucco is president of the Eastside Franklin Neighborhood Association and she was recommended by 4th Ward Councilperson Kate Fields. 

“Edna Sabucco is the kind of resident and volunteer that is exactly what the city needs,” Councilperson Fields said. “This woman works tirelessly. … She literally created a park and got the funding out of lots that were abandoned all around her. She participates in all the official cleanups and her own unofficial cleanups constantly. She just contributes in many, many ways to the community, and I think she would be an excellent appointment.” 

The council voted 8-0 to approve Sabucco’s appointment. 

Voted to reappoint Christopher Flores to the Hurley Board of Hospital Managers for an additional five-year term

Flores is currently District Director for U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee Michigan 5th Congressional District. He has also been active in the healthcare field in Flint, such as being the former board member of Health Plus of Michigan where he served as chair of Health Plus Partners Medicaid Plan.

“He works for Congressman Kildee’s office in some capacity and he has been very helpful to me in that office,” Councilperson Mays said. “This is a reappointment to the Hurley board, and I do not have any facts telling me otherwise, as I put my feelers out, as I get ready to make this appointment.”

The council voted 8-0 to approve Flores’s reappointment. 

Voted to renew and extend multiple contracts

There were several contracts brought before the council to be renewed or extended, all for various city work. The council voted to approve seventeen contracts in an 8-0 vote. The contracts include:

  • Entering into the third year of contract with AIS Construction Equipmentfor a four-year lease to purchase a Vogele Paver and a Hamm Roller, as requested by Street Maintenance, in an annual amount not to exceed $125,266.56
  • Entering into a change order with Lasercom LLC to provide additional postage for the mailing of city property tax bills in an amount not to exceed $24,500.00, and a contract total amount of $173,590.00
  • Entering into a change order with McNaughton-McKay Electric Co. to provide electrical poles as requested by the Water Service Center, in an amount not to exceed $19,688.57, and a contract total amount of $81,888.57
  • Extending the contract with Ace Saginaw Asphalt to provide additional asphalt paving materials in an amount not to exceed $11,000.00, and a contract total amount of $793,188.00
  • Extending the contract with Aldridge Trucking to provide additional fill sand in an amount not to exceed $10,000.00, and a contract total amount of $108,000.00
  • Entering into the second year of the contract with PVS Nolwood Chemical, Inc. to provide liquid ferrous (aqueous ferrous chlorine) for Fiscal Year 2022, as requested by Water Pollution Control, in an annual amount not to exceed $120,000.00
  • Entering into the second year of the contract with Polydyne Inc. to provide liquid cationic polymer (emulsion) for Fiscal Year 2022, as requested by Water Pollution Control, in an annual amount not to exceed $98,000.00
  • Entering into a contract with EJ USA, Inc. to provide fire hydrants, catch basin grates, and manhole covers, as requested by the Water Service Center in an amount not to exceed $120,000.00
  • Entering into a contract with Republic Services to provide sewage sludge cake disposal services, as requested by Water Pollution Control, in an amount not to exceed $247,000.00
  • Entering into a three-year contract with DHT Transportation to provide sludge disposal transportation services, as requested by Water Pollution Control, in an amount not to exceed $250,000.00
  • Entering into a contract with Duperon Corp. to provide the East Pump Station washer compactor, as requested by Water Pollution Control, in an amount not to exceed $81,365.00
  • Entering into the second year of the three-year contract with Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc. to provide comprehensive regulatory compliance assistance, as requested by Water Pollution Control, in an amount not to exceed $100,000.00 per year
  • Attesting the city’s support for moving the year for resurfacing of Saginaw Street from Atherton Road to Oakley Street from Fiscal Year 2023 to Fiscal Year 2022. Funding for the Fiscal Years 2020-2023 Transportation Improvement Program decreased the city’s contribution from $1,093,870.00 to $61,882.00
  • Recognizing Back to the Bricks, Inc. as a non-profit organization operating in the city of Flint for the purpose of obtaining a charitable gaming license. Back to the Bricks, Inc. plans to conduct a 50/50 raffle on August 17 through August 21 in downtown Flint and the US-23 Drive-In
  • Entering into a change order with the contract with Spalding DeDecker to facilitate a design change during the Preliminary Engineering Services to rehabilitate Miller Road, as requested by the Department of Public Works and Utilities in an amount not to exceed $25,000.00, and a revised aggregate amount of $234,508.09
  • Entering into contract with Boyd’s Lawn & Landscaping to provide mowing services for parks, trails, cemeteries, centers and triangle for Fiscal Year 2022, in an amount not to exceed $154,500.00, as requested by Street Maintenance
  • Entering into contract with RNA Facilities Management to provide janitorial services, as requested by the Department of Public Works, in an amount not to exceed $176,000.00

Voted to approve the Brownfield Plan for the James P. Cole Project at 1809 James P. Cole Boulevard

The council was divided on whether to approve this plan, with concerns about the ambiguity of the final product. 

The Brownfield Plan for the James P. Cole Project will create a renovated and new industrial space at 1809 James P. Cole Blvd. According to Khalfani Stephens, Flint’s director of economic development, the project relies on an investor raising the taxable value of the property before they can get any reimbursement. Although the project has the potential to bring economic development, the investor runs the risk of losing money “if the property’s taxable value goes under.”

There was a public hearing about the plan during the June 14 meeting, but it did not take place until approximately 2:30 a.m. on June 15, with only three public speakers.

The council voted 5 to 3 to postpone discussing approval of the plan to the next committee meeting. 

Khue Tran

Khue Tran (she/her) is a journalist hailing from Pflugerville, TX. She is currently a student at Yale University and has written for multiple publications on campus, in addition to having words in the...

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