Waste Receptacle Ordinance Adopted; Sparks Fly Over Marijuana Sub-Committee Lawsuits

Warren City Council Recap Sept. 10, 2019

By Susan Smiley

Residents will now be able to store the big blue trash bins, rolled out by the City of Warren last fall,  on the side of their homes now that an amendment to ordinance 30 section 4.12 has been unanimously approved by Warren City Council. 

The amendment states that receptacles may be stored on the side or rear yard as long as they are out of sight, covered and shielded from the general public. This ordinance has been in planning for several months while residents have, in some cases, struggled to find a proper spot to store their new garbage and recycling bins. 

“We felt like the side of the house is fine as long as everything looks neat,” said Planning Director Ron Wuerth. “No one wants to drag those bins from the back of the yard to the street in the winter. So we are trying not to be as restrictive as we have been in the past.”

The Warren Police Department received unanimous approval for bullet resistant glass for the Civic Center South police station. The estimated cost is $50,000. Also approved for the police department; $83,487 to cover the costs of lintel repairs at the Civic Center Police station. 

Warren Fire received unanimous approval on two items:

  • The purchase of four vehicles from Todd Wenel Buick GMC of Westland Inc. for $191,440
  • The purchase of firefighting personal protective equipment for $80,160

Residents on Greenbriar Avenue can look forward to some road repairs between Arden and 14 Mile. Council approved the project 6-1 with Colegio being the only “no” vote. Colegio said she had no contract or information about the timeline of the project in the packet that typically contains backup material for all of the items to be discussed at the council meeting and would not vote on something she had not seen. Greenbriar will have water main replacement followed by pavement reconstruction. 

A proposal to establish a veteran’s commission in the CIty of Warren  was tabled until the next city council meeting because the resident who introduced the idea for the commission is out of town this week. The commission would consist of five residents appointed by the mayor.

Colegio said she requested several months ago that a list of bills paid by the DDA as well as minutes from their meetings be given to council. Those documents were never provided which Colegio said makes her suspicious.

“It makes one wonder what they are trying to hide and why the just don’t show us the bills,” said Colegio. She suggested that the council subpoena the chairman of the DDA to bring its bills and meeting minutes to the next city council meeting. The vote was 4-3 with Colegio, Stevens, Keith Sadowski and Robert Boccomino voting in favor of the subpoena.

Sparks flew at the end of the meeting when motions to schedule closed door sessions regarding two lawsuits related to the council’s marijuana sub-committee were discussed. Last month Judge Carl Marlinga ruled in one of the lawsuits that the sub-committee had violated the Open Meetings Act when it held 14 closed meetings.  

Stevens chided the council members who sit on that committee — Steve Warner, Ron Papandrea, and in particular committee chairman Cecil St. Pierre — and said their behavior was an embarrassment to the city. He handed out copies of the Open Meetings Act to all council members but when he got to Colegio, she said she had one already and Stevens should give her copy to City Attorney Ethan Vinson. St. Pierre attempted to make light of the situation and when given his copy said: “NOW you give it to me.”

“This is all about denying the people’s right to know what is going on in their city,” said Stevens. “Don’t you feel any shame in that?”

Stevens said when he first was elected to council he suggested its members all attend training on Roberts Rules of Order, FOIA procedure, and the Open Meetings Act, but his motion did not pass. He suggested that the council members who voted against the training did so because they wanted to be able to claim that they did not intentionally violate the Open Meetings Act because they didn’t know what it actually said.

Colegio, who has also been calling for the marijuana sub-committee meetings to be open, said the closed-door meetings caused the entire licensing process to be questioned.

“It is not about being for or against marijuana, the issue is that the whole process has been closed, that the doors have been closed to the public and to the other council members,” said Colegio. “It has been frustrating from the beginning and it is unacceptable.”

Colegio said that these kinds of lawsuits do not make the city attractive to residents or to prospective businesses that are considering locating in Warren.

A motion by Colegio, seconded by Sadowski and supported by Stevens to hire an outside attorney failed 5-3. There was unanimous approval to schedule closed door sessions to discuss the two lawsuits. 

A motion to approve the hiring of Plante Moran to tally the medical marijuana scorecards for prospective medical marijuana businesses applying for 15 available licenses in the city was approved 5-3. Sadowski, Colegio, and Stevens were the no votes. 

“This is cover for (St. Pierre) and for the city,” said Stevens. “If residents knew how much has gone out of the door on court costs during this administration they would be shocked. Now we have this debacle. It is unbelievable and shameful.”

The next Warren City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 24, 7 p.m. at the Warren Community Center on Arden. 

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