The Shelby City Council appointed Joe Flesch to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Ward 3 councilman Luke Casey. Flesch and Jesse Lamb both expressed interest in the position. The action came at the Feb. 5 regular City Council meeting.

Karl Hartmann of Bloom Montana, located in Helena, met with the Council to discuss about the possibility of opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Shelby.

“There are 74 medical marijuana patients in Toole County and 114 in Pondera,” said Hartmann. “Currently they only have three options for purchasing their medication. I’m asking Shelby to consider a dispensary in town, on a trial basis. We are not looking to be on Main Street. We are not here to draw attention. We are just a business providing a service.”

Hartmann said Bloom currently operates eight shops in Montana, which are located in Lolo, Townsend, Billings, Havre, Lewistown and two in Helena, all of which are in compliance with State law.

“The Dept. of Public Health and Human Services uses our facility in Helena for training their people,” said Hartmann. “We aren’t tie-dye and black lights. We are a professional business looking to provide a service in areas where it is lacking.”

Shelby’s current ordinance would not allow a dispensary within city limits. Helena’s ordinance currently does not either, but Helena abated their ordinance for six months to allow Bloom a trial period. 

“The council in Helena will be voting at the end of April on whether they will amend the ordinance to allow us to stay or not,” said Hartmann. “After the community support at the last meeting I attended, it’s my belief they will approve having dispensaries within the city limits.”

Hartmann re-enforced the fact he and his partner are simply asking for a chance to come on a trial basis, whether it be for three months or six, to offer their services to those who need them. If after the trial period the community decides it does not want these services, they will leave.

“Please know I’m not trying to disrespect your community,” said Hartmann. “We are not wanting to be in town, but that’s just not an option here, we’ve looked. If Shelby decides at the end of the trial period that they do not want us here we will leave. I’m not here as an activist or with an agenda, just a business.”

Mayor Gary McDermott said he was not in favor of having a medical marijuana dispensary in Shelby. Council members Bill Moritz, Debbie Clark and Trent Tustian agreed. Councilman Lyle Kimmet said while he was not in favor it, he would like to know what the residents he represents want and is willing to listen to their input.

“If the public comes forward and says they want this, then the Council can revisit this proposal,” said City Attorney Bill Hunt.

To express your concerns or support, contact:

•Ward 1: Debbie Clark and Aaron Heaton; 

•Ward 2, Trent Tustian and Lyle Kimmet;

•Ward 3: Bill Moritz and Joe Flesh; 

•or City Hall at (406) 434-5222.

In other news from the meeting, the council:

•Held a public hearing on the City’s General Needs Assessment. No members of the public attended to comment at the hearing.

•Approved a building permit for the clubhouse at Marias Valley Golf and Country Club. The City owns the building and leases it to another company. The City is not responsible for the maintenance and expenses, per the lease contract. In order for renovations to proceed the City Council needed to approve the permit, which it did unanimously. 

•Approved the second reading of Ordinance No. 837, which removes conflicting language about the garbage rates. Also approved was Resolution No. 1990 dealing with the budgetary authority resolution for the CDBG program grant.

“As part of the Stage 2 Storm Drainage project this resolution is required by the granting committee,” explained McDermott. “We’ve had discussion on this and already voted to approve the $67,500 match from the City.”

•Tabled the interlocal agreement with Kevin and Sunburst dealing with commercial dumping fees.

“When it comes to the Kevin and Sunburst Memorandum of Understanding, we have decided to study the rate structure and then come up with a comprehensive proposal for the Council,” said McDermott. “Jade (Goroski) and I should have something for the Council the first part of March.”

•Heard an update from Community Development Director Lorette Carter on the City of Shelby’s recently awarded $300,000 grant from the Army Corp of Engineers.

“There’s a lot of work to do on this before it happens,” said Carter. “It would be for the well field. The City would have a one third match, we can use other matches from non-federal grant funds.”

McDermott advised the Council that between this grant and the $750,000 TSEP grant that is approximately $1.8 million the City will not have to come up with additional matching funds.

The next regularly scheduled City Council meeting will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 19, due to the Presidents’ Day holiday.

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