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City Council Meeting Minutes - December 19, 2019

City of Fulton
Regular Council Meeting
December 19, 2019


Regular Meeting

Mayor Ottens called the meeting to order at 5:30 PM and directed the Deputy Clerk to call the roll. On roll call, Aldermen – Keith King, Paul Banker, Barb Mask, Sue VanKampen, Dan Nederhoff, Margaret Crosthwaite, Gene Field, and Mike VanZuiden were present. City Clerk Lindsey Nederhoff was absent. Also in attendance were City Attorney Bill Shirk, Staff Members - Randy Boonstra, Dan Clark, Dave Bartels, Debi Ervin, Dale Sikkema and Tammy Garibay. Media representatives were Daniel Nardini and John Rohlf along with Channel 8 News, WQAD, Moline, IL.

Pledge of allegiance was recited; invocation was given by Pastor Kevin Verhoven.

Visitors signed up for Public Comment included: Larry Russell, Russ Holesinger, Kyle Folk, Lucien DeBatty, Jeff Soenksen, Bill Council, Arlene Considine, Darryl Hogue, Dan Dolan, Brenda Mohr, Shirley Mohr, Kristin Huisenga, James Palmer, Matt Sanderson and Barb Frantz. (All concerning the sales of recreational cannabis)

Public Comments

Larry Russell, who is a member of the Whiteside County Board, District 3, shared with the audience that the County Board did vote to allow the sale of cannabis within the county at a previous meeting this week. He would like to see a proposal in February of 2020 at the next meeting, of an undefined time period to opt out. He does not think the County should be competing with the City. He is suggesting a 6 month opt plan.

Russ Holesinger once again thanked the Council for concern and attention to this matter. He knows it will not be an easy decision for them to vote down for sales. Mr. Holesinger stated he is a firm believer in the sale of medical marijuana but recreational is another story. “You, as the Council have a choice for the “opt out” plan. Please exercise your common sense.” Russ mentioned several cities that have opted out and encouraged Fulton to do the same. “We want a buffer in our community, for our schools, for our children. Do not criticize us for “worrying about the children, let’s make a difference. Say no to recreational cannabis.”

Kyle Folk urged the Council to wait on the decision, at least several months to see what might transpose over a period of time, stating that the Council was only interested in money and has not listened and does not care about the citizen’s interests. He reiterated on the “commercialization of the product.” The debate should be about Public Safety, and nothing more.

Jeff Soenksen and Lucien DeBatty of the “Dispensary,” both gave positive reasons for the passage of recreational cannabis. Lucien once again told the Council about the numbers on the petition from residents of Fulton, Whiteside County and surrounding areas who are in favour. The petition had over 1100 signatures in support, and pointed out that the other petition that was being signed by residents against the sale had just over 200 signatures. “Seniors are the number one users of cannabis and there are many studies to prove this. Adult use cannabis has reduced the opioid use by 11%. Allowing recreational use will let individuals who might not be able to afford the price of a medical card for cannabis (which is $500) the chance to try and see the effectiveness on their ailments.”

Jeff also wanted to remind the Council and the citizens that the Dispensary, since they have been open, have not had one negative incident that they have had to deal with. They believe that if they are allowed to have recreational sales they will continue to have an impeccable track record! Please let a group of experienced and knowledge staff (not amateurs) recommend and manage the recreational sales of cannabis.

Bill Council gave no comment.

Arlene Considine stated the harmful effects of marijuana on the young or adolescence. Marijuana impairs short term memory, motor skills, alters judgement, lowers IQ and is linked to lower income individuals. It can also lead to criminal behaviour. It is unfortunate that the Council is even considering passing the sale of adult use marijuana.

Darryl Hogue, Superintendent of Schools stated that more children are going to gain access to the drug, which will lead to vehicular accidents and bad behaviour. We need to protect innocent lives, not promote drug usage.

Dan Dolan, majority owner of the Dispensary and holder of the Adult Use Recreational Cannabis license, is a father of 5. “Drugs are already in town and there is no recreational sales yet. You are not going to stop the drug usage which is being pushed by the Black Market. Wouldn’t you prefer it to be managed by professionals who will regulate, track and monitor the sales to state officials and police departments.” “And yes, benefit from the sales tax revenue, which the City can use for good things.” Dan is a full believer that a portion of the revenue be used for public education and more law enforcement. The Dispensary will pay and extreme amount of taxes – there is going to be money available, why not use it.

Brenda Moore from Clinton, who had lived in Seattle for quite some time gave an example of a neighbour situation, stating that the smoking of cannabis by them in the apartment was so extreme it came through the duct work into her condo. The marijuana is not the same as in the 70’s, it is three times the strength. All of us have rights, do not pass this.

Shirley Moore, mother of Brenda had nothing encouraging to say about cannabis use. She stated that none of her children were users but did know others that smoked. Shirley stated that smokers fail in life due to their addiction. This is very sad and a waste of our youth if the Council allows this.

Kristen Huisenga showed a brief commercial of children enacting on what they saw of their parent’s actions. “Children see….Children do!” “Our children should not be used as Guinea pigs, vote to prohibit this. You can take some time and vote on this later, not today.”

James Palmer, Church Elder and tax payer, who is a medical and recreational user stated that it was not the Council’s job to raise our children, that responsibility lays on the parents. People who smoke recreational cannabis are not the problem. The problem drugs are the Meth users and sellers, along with opioid use and harder drugs being sold on the Black Market….unregulated! Mr. Palmer stated that he is tired of the “finger pointing”. People who smoke cannabis are not criminals, and besides he sees it a great opportunity for the City of Fulton to take advantage of the tax revenue.

Matt Sanderson gave an example of his earlier life, mainly 1986-1995 when he was a cannabis user. “I had no productivity while I was using.” “This is a morality issue, what message do you want to send? Activities such as camping, jogging, boating are “RECREATIONAL”, not pot! This is going to put people in danger….please vote against it!”

Barb Frantz applauded the Council for doing their jobs. “I do not want Fulton to be #1 in the County to sell marijuana. This is a moral decision that you are going to have to make. Do not be so proud to be the #1 town to sell cannabis. Do not lay this on the parents….we cannot control our children 24/7, you cannot give them another “in” to ruin their lives….say NO!”

Consent Agenda

Approve consent agenda; approve council meeting minutes from December 9, 2019 and the November 2019 Treasurer’s Report. Alderman King motioned, seconded by Alderman VanKampen. No Discussion or Questions asked. Roll call vote – 8 yes - motion carried.


Mayor Ottens presented in a written letter to the Council on his decision to “Veto” the Proposed Police Department Reorganization and Appointments of Two Sergeants Plan.
Mayor Ottens veto was based upon a 3 management/supervisors positions that impose an increase in salaries which are not budgeted for in this year’s current fiscal year. Without having the Council state where the money would be coming from, it is assumed the salaries would be taken from the General Fund.

Promotions and funding for this should be discussed at the future budget workshops and possibly be implemented during the next fiscal year.

In a department of 9 officers, including the Police Chief and School Resource Officer, having 2 levels of management and supervisors between a patrol officer and the Police Chief is not efficient.

Mayor Ottens explained that general reserves are approximately $336,000, down from a high of $747,000 in 2016; which has occurred by the continued spending of unbudgeted items. This must end.

Mayor Ottens has asked the Council if they are to override his veto, he asks that they tell the taxpayers of our community where is the money going to come from without depleting more from the general reserves.

Approve an Ordinance to submit to the County Clerk a 4.75% increase for this year’s Tax Levy. Alderman VanZuiden motioned, seconded by Alderman King. No Questions or Discussion. Roll Call Vote – 8 yes – motion carried.

Approve an Ordinance Amending the Municipal Code of the City of Fulton by the Addition of Chapter 119 in Title XI Prohibiting Cannabis Business Establishments. Alderman VanZuiden motioned, seconded by Alderman Crosthwaite. Discussion to follow.

Alderman Nederhoff stated he was not convinced that the tax revenues would be coming in from the State as projected, and that was a concern. He stands by the School Board’s commitment for the safety of the children.

Alderman VanZuiden commended the citizen participation and the council for the lengthy process that has taken place to get to this final vote. “Everyone has been very respectful of each other’s opinions.” “This has been the most debated topic ever!” “Thank you for all of those that have been involved.” “This is not easy.”

Alderman VanKampen stated that this has been a long process. This will be a hard decision to make. She hopes that however the vote may go, that everyone will be respectful of each other.
Alderman Mask gave thanks to the citizens of Fulton and their concerns; and also the Dispensary, who have provided a wealth of information to her these past few weeks.

With no further discussion, Roll Call Vote – 3 yes, 5 no…motioned denied.

With no further discussion Alderman VanZuiden motioned, seconded by Alderman King to adjourn. With voice agreement, the council adjourned at 6:25 pm.

Respectfully Submitted,
Tammy L Garibay
Deputy Clerk