City OKs moratorium on medical marijuana facilities

Ken Lahmers
Special to MyTownNEO
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TWINSBURG – For the next six months, the city will not issue occupancy permits for any building, use or change of use that would enable the cultivation, processing, distribution or sale of medical marijuana.

At its May 11 meeting, City Council approved a moratorium on accepting any application for, or granting any zoning certificate or occupancy permit related to, medical marijuana facilities.

While the moratorium is in effect, the planning commission will discuss the matter of prohibiting or limiting such facilities, and make a recommendation to Council.

The Ohio Revised Code gives Council the authority to adopt legislation to prohibit or limit the number of cultivators, processors or retail dispensaries licensed within the municipality, and to establish planning, zoning and business regulation laws.

The moratorium ordinance states, “The city needs time to review and consider the report of the planning commission and the recommendations of the administration prior to taking any definitive action on this matter, and therefore seeks a brief moratorium.”

Law Director David Maistros said the city has had a couple of inquiries from parties wanting to open dispensaries, and “there is no tool in place to deal with them. The question is does the city want them, and if so, what restrictions are appropriate?”

OTHER BUSINESS

Council OK’d increasing the wastewater capital fund by $250,000 – $35,000 already had been budgeted – to replace roofs at the wastewater department vehicle storage building and community center.

“The storage building’s roof is flat, old and leaking,” said Service Director Chris Campbell. “We received favorable bids, which also would allow replacing the community center’s roof.” He added a contract for the work should be before Council soon.

By a 5-2 vote, Council approved a change that would allow the makeup of the capital improvement board to be non-ward specific. The old ordinance required the board to be made up of one member from each of the city’s five wards.

Council reps Greg Bellan and Maureen Stauffer voted against the change.

City officials have said the reason for the change is that it is sometimes difficult to find enough interested citizens in certain wards who are interested in serving on the board. That has been the case specifically in Ward 1 in the last three years.

“We still will make an effort to find someone to serve from each ward, but this gives us flexibility to pick someone from another ward if we can’t find somebody to represent a particular ward,” said Councilman Bill Furey.

Several members of Council and Mayor Ted Yates thanked voters for passing the 2.4-mill levy to fund police and fire pensions and capital improvements. “I’m excited to see what’s in store for the police and fire departments in the next couple of years,” said Yates.

The mayor and finance director Sarah Buccigross said the city will work with state and county agencies to set up an account for the levy money and be more transparent with residents.

Buccigross said legislation to establish the account should be on Council’s May 25 agenda. She added now that federal guidelines have been announced, the finance committee will discuss how American Rescue Plan funds can be spent.

Addressing an inquiry from resident Bob Thewes, Yates said the city is working on efforts to implement some recommendations made in last year’s state performance audit.

He said the city is doing what it can to reduce health insurance premiums and cut other expenses. He added some classes at the fitness center have been eliminated, and officials are looking at increasing certain program fees.

He also said “significant progress” has been made toward adjusting shift differentials and minimum staffing, which the performance audit recommended. “We don’t broadcast these efforts, but we are working on them,” he said.

Furey cautioned residents that they shouldn’t depend on social media for factual information about the city’s finances, because there is a lot of misinformation being disseminated.

“The city is not in as bad financial shape as some people claim on social media,” he said. “I urge residents to talk to city officials and check the city’s website for accurate, up-to-date figures.”

Fire Chief Tim Morgan reported his crews responded to 280 calls for service in April, bringing the total for the first four months of 2021 to 1,042. He added the department’s new pumper truck will arrive soon.

Contact the newspaper at twinsburgbulletin@recordpub.com.