Street Talk: The points system

The city’s planning department beat the clock on a medical marijuana moratorium.

The planning commission will begin accepting land-use applications for medical marijuana safety compliance facilities and secure transporters Jan. 22, and city planners will begin accepting applications for medical marijuana growers, processors and provisioning centers March 4.

Both dates beat the end date of the city commission’s six-month moratorium for such requests. The city commission enacted the moratorium Sept. 18 to allow city planners additional time to develop proposed policies and zoning ordinance amendments. The moratorium would have expired mid-March.

“The commission had a number of goals it wanted to achieve in creating a good regulatory framework for medical marijuana in Grand Rapids,” said Suzanne Schulz, managing director of design and development. “We also heard extensively from practitioners and the community. This is a new land use, and there are a lot of lessons to be learned from other cities about how to regulate it. It was very important to be thoughtful.”

The city commission recently approved a Marijuana Industry Voluntary Equitable Development Agreement that provides “points” for applicants who align with the commission’s priorities. The commission also approved a policy for parks waiver requests from the 1,000-foot separation distance requirement from sensitive uses and zoning ordinance text amendments.

The city commission crafted the MIVEDA policy to build the local economy, particularly around ownership and equity. MIVEDA points will assist in determining application placement on the planning commission’s agenda as marijuana facility locations are reviewed and approved.

The city commission will ratify passage of the zoning ordinance text amendments Dec. 18, and the licensing ordinance likely will be introduced for commission consideration Jan. 8.

Planning officials expect the first marijuana facility use request to be heard by the planning commission May 9. Public hearings for medical marijuana grower, processor and provisioning center special-use requests will allow community members to weigh in.

She, too

The founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, brought a crowd of West Michigan businesswomen to its feet more than once during a recent speech downtown.

Burke was the keynote speaker for the Inforum West Michigan Capstone Event held Nov. 29 at the JW Marriott Grand Rapids hotel, 235 Louis St. NW.

Founded in 1962, Inforum is a Detroit- and Grand Rapids-based professional organization for women that combines strategic connections, professional development programs, forums for new ideas and original research to accelerate women’s careers and boost companies’ talent initiatives.

Its president and CEO is Terry Barclay.

Debra Minton, president, Philanthropia Partners, is chair of the West Michigan Regional Council for Inforum.

Minton; Dani Zizak, vice president of corporate communications and social responsibility, Wolverine Worldwide; and Claire Groen, vice president of global litigation and deputy general counsel at Amway, provided introductory remarks.

Burke’s speech — which was followed by a Q&A moderated by Mike Cazer, COO of Amway — focused on the beginnings of the #MeToo movement before it gained traction in the mainstream media.

She often veered off script to share the movement isn’t meant to be about awareness, a witch hunt, vengeance or toppling powerful men — but rather started out with an emphasis on saying “I hear you” to survivors and offering them hope for joy and healing in the future.

“It should not be political. It is not a weapon for destroying or protecting,” Burke said. “It’s about human dignity. It’s about saying, ‘That happened to me, too; I hear you and empathize.’”

Burke shared part of her life story — how she was molested at the age of 7 and later found empathy and healing in the knowledge she wasn’t alone through the writings of Maya Angelou.

Burke said there are many reasons men and women keep silent after harassment or assault.

One of the big ones is economic constraints. Perpetrators within an organization are often several ranks higher than their victims, who sometimes are working paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to risk being fired for speaking out.

Burke said she feels the urgency to devote as much time as she has left to this cause.

“I’m a 45-year-old black woman from the Bronx,” she said. “I’ve got a time limit.

“This is a time to drive action. Awareness is not a virtue without a moral imperative. We have a moral imperative. We have to make sure we and our children have the capacity to walk and live dignified lives.”

Northern lights

A Grand Rapids distillery opened its first off-site tasting room.

Long Road Distillers unveiled its Boyne City tasting room Nov. 23. The grand opening coincided with other holiday activities in downtown Boyne City, including the Santa Parade and holiday open houses at several retailers.

The tasting room, located inside the custom apparel store Outdoor Beerdsman, 118 Water St., is Long Road’s first off-site tasting room. The new location features Long Road’s regular lineup of spirits, tasting events and retail goods, including bottles of Long Road spirits, house-made ginger beer, simple syrups, apparel and glassware.

“We can’t wait to officially welcome guests into our new tasting room,” said Kyle Van Strien, co-owner and co-founder of Long Road Distillers. “Our team has been hard at work to get everything ready over the past few months, and we’re excited to finally share not only what we’ve been able to build together in this new space but also the world-class spirits we’re proud to craft right here in Michigan.”

Setting sail

Expedia CruiseShipCenters has its first franchise in Michigan.

Eric and Connie Sattler opened the business at 5925 28th St. SE in Grand Rapids earlier this year.

The couple has been to more than 20 countries and now wants to use their travel expertise to help others with their traveling and vacation needs.

“Vacationing is all about creating lifelong memories, but the process of booking a complex trip like cruising can be intimidating,” Eric Sattler said. “We are taking our passion for travel to guide others with their vacation plans.”

According to the Cruise Lines International Association, the interest in cruise vacations is growing, with more than 27 million passengers expected to sail in 2018, an increase 10 years ago from 17 million.

CLIA notes member cruise lines were scheduled to debut 27 new ocean, river and specialty ships in 2018 for a total investment of more than $6.8 billion.


The Rotary Club of Grand Rapids’ motto is “service above self,” so it’s only fitting the club’s highest honor is the Frederik Meijer Service Above Self Award.

Last week, the organization announced the 2019 honoree will be Jackie Taylor, who has a long and storied career with educational institutions in West Michigan and throughout the state.

Previous winners include Shelley Irwin, Rick DeVos, Luis Tomatis, and John and Nancy Kennedy.

“Jackie truly exemplifies the philanthropic legacy of Fred Meijer and the virtues of ‘service above self,’ dedicating her life to helping others,” said JoAnn Abraham, of Rotary’s Service Above Self Award Committee. “There were many wonderful and very worthy nominees. …”

The awards dinner is scheduled for April 16 in the Cultural Center at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, 2250 East Paris Ave. SE.

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