The Fire Station Cannabis Company released a statement Tuesday regarding the controversial sign promoting the business on Sharon Avenue. After legal counsel for the City of Houghton and municipal officials signaled that they believe numerous ordinances were being violated by the billboard, the company has temporarily pulled it down. What’s left is the frame that has been standing for decades. In the past it listed the businesses located in one of the nearby shopping malls.
The Fire Station says that it has legally purchased each space and put an ad up that utilized the entire area. Using a color palette of bright reds and yellows, it was eye catching. Keweenaw Report reached out to Houghton Manager Eric Waara for a response to the Fire Station statement. He reiterated that content is not the problem, something speculated on by Fire Station Co-CEO Stosh Wasik.
Waara says the two sides continue to communicate with each other about the issue. He says the dispute arises over, “the size and manner by which it was placed there.” One of the first points of clarification sought is who owns the property on which the sign was erected.
The full statement from The Fire Station is below.
This fall, The Fire Station Cannabis Co. leased all of the available sign spaces on a billboard sign in Downtown Houghton on Sharon Avenue that has existed for over 30 years. After installing signage at the location in early November to direct customers to its storefront, The Fire Station learned the sign was cause for concern for some city officials and residents. As an act of good faith, TFS, along with the owner of the sign, decided to remove the sign while the legal teams for the city and the company could sort out who owns the parcel of land where the sign was located.
“Serving our neighbors and being a part of the communities where we operate is one of our top priorities,” shared Logan Stauber, co-CEO and owner of TFS. “While we believe we have the right to rent space on a billboard in the location in question, we recognize that the sign itself raised some flags for the city and would like to give them the opportunity to explore those.”
Lessening the stigma associated with marijuana usage and increasing awareness of cannabis’ many benefits is something The Fire Station firmly believes in. “It’s hard to know if this sign would’ve caused concern if it were a different kind of retailer,” added Stosh Wasik, The Fire Station’s other co-CEO and owner. “Cannabis is seen as controversial, but I hope that it won’t always be.”
Legal teams for the City of Houghton and TFS are working together to resolve the ownership issue. “This sign, in some shape or form, has been in place for 30 plus years. The City of Houghton has been collecting personal property taxes on this sign for many of those years. The City is making money off these taxes, so why take it down now?” asked Tony Ruiz, attorney for the owner of the sign S&W Real Estate, LLC. “We are not convinced that this sign is not legally placed on this parcel, however we will work with the City and get to the bottom of it.”
The Fire Station remains steadfast in their goal to integrate, enhance and strengthen their relationship with the Houghton community. Regardless of the final verdict on the sign, TFS will continue to look for ways they can assist in bettering the local community.