City Hall COLLEGIAN | (Photo: Wiki­media)

In a meeting that was expected to be focused on the legal­ization of recre­ational mar­i­juana, the Hillsdale City Council took a dif­ferent turn. In their Oct. 15 meeting, council members col­lec­tively decided to remove the issue from the schedule.

“Our city council doesn’t take municipal posi­tions on state items or federal items,” Mayor Adam Stockford said. “Espe­cially not social issues.”

“I think that anybody who has been paying attention to the news is aware of this council’s dis­po­sition on mar­i­juana and the legal­ization thereof,” said Ward 4 Coun­cilman Matthew Bell. “I think that it is up to us to make res­o­lu­tions, not to be given them and told to vote, espe­cially when it con­cerns some­thing of a political nature like this.”

After the council passed the motion to remove mar­i­juana and dis­cussion of its legal­ization from the agenda, it focused on issues within the city.

Ted Jansen, a local res­ident, approached the podium with two large branches from bushes in his yard.

He gave a speech about his treatment with the City of Hillsdale. He described a tree that the city forced him to remove and a metal roll-fence that the city forced him to remove, which was similar to one at a recent condo devel­opment that the city did not remove.

Jansen accepted that these might be fair cita­tions by the city, but when he turned in a FOIA request, he found that, “from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018, one citation was issued for the removal of weeds. This was at a vacant house.”

Jansen said he feels the city has singled him out. In the past year, he said, he has been ordered to remove part of a tree, two bushes, a metal fence, and flowers planted on the terrace in front of his house. According to Jansen, the Hillsdale Department of Public Ser­vices took the matter into its own hands and removed the flowers from Jansen’s front terrace, sparking his outrage.

Jake Hammel, director of Hillsdale’s public ser­vices, said Jansen’s FOIA search did not bring up any results because of the will­ingness of other home­owners to work with the department. Because the home­owners allowed the DPS to work on the property, there was no need to write the reports that would have shown up in a FOIA search.

The debate between the two sides con­tinued throughout most of the meeting.

During the closing council comment, the issues between DPS and Jansen came up again. Coun­cilman Bruce Sharp called the sit­u­ation a “dog and pony show.” Coun­cilman Bell said, “Mr. Jansen probably let his plants grow too big. But at the same time, why couldn’t we just work with him to get him to cut them to where they were acceptable?”

Bell said, “If we want to be a great city, we need to have great cus­tomer service.”