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.”