Swanton Village Council Moves For Ban On Medical Marijuana; Approves Additional Corn Festival Beer Tent

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Following a recommendation by their Planning Commission, the Swanton Village Council has agreed to support the recommendation of the Commission to place an outright ban on the cultivation, processing and sale of medical marijuana despite the passing of Ohio Bill 523 by the state legislature which legalizes medical marijuana in Ohio. Bill 523, which will be administered under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, became effective on September 8, 2016 and will allow people with certain medical conditions, upon the recommendation of an Ohio-licensed physician certified by the State Medical Board, to purchase and use medical marijuana. The bill specifies the drug will be in a pill or oil form and not tobacco.

The major reason for the proposed ban, as cited by Council members, is the lack of details, regulations and overall policy set down by the State of Ohio regarding the various aspects of the cultivation, processing and sale of the drug. Those details, while they are currently being worked on by the State Board, will not likely be available until sometime in 2018.

“Those regulations will dictate how the drug can be advertised, the number of dispensaries, number of marijuana cultivators allowed and how it will be taxed,” explained Councilwoman Kathy Kreuz. “We really need to do something. We need to put something in place,” she said, referring to the proposed ban.

Currently, a Village moratorium on medical marijuana is already in place and due to expire in February of 2017. The proposed ban will, effectively, extend that moratorium. Swanton is one of 50 Ohio municipalities with a moratorium or ban of medical marijuana.

Mayor Ann Roth, in her report, explained the reason for the “swift” passage of the medical marijuana bill be the State Assembly and Ohio Governor John Kasich as it was explained to her during a presentation by a law group from Cleveland. “The reason behind it was to thwart any future attempt by investor groups to infiltrate into the state of Ohio to try and get legislation passed.” Basically, it was legislation that would only allow a small group of investors to be involved in and profit from the medical marijuana business.

Ms. Roth went on to inform everyone the state is also looking to use medical marijuana as an antidote to opiate use. “I was surprised by that,” said the Mayor. “I had not heard that side of the argument. But they are considering it might be an avenue they pursue to treat people on heroin and fentanyl.”

Members of the 2017 Swanton Corn Festival were present to ask, by way of a letter, the Council to consider the dates and times of Friday, August 18, 2017 from 5:00 pm to midnight and Saturday, August 19, 2017 from 8:00 am to midnight for the festival. They also put in an additional request for a “smaller satellite beer garden in the fenced-in horse shoe pit on Saturday from noon to 8:00 pm. This would allow (adult beverage) service in the area of stage #2 and volleyball courts for those who do not wish to pay to enter the ball field (main beer tent). Council approved the dates and said it would approve the additional request upon proof of insurance.

Regarding the Norfolk Southern staging yard, Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle sent copies of Resolution 2016-10, strongly opposing the project, to all local representatives. She reported that “Senator Cliff Hite returned a call and indicated he is aware of the issue and he and Senator Gardner are working on what can be done from a State of Ohio standpoint.”

In other news, the Village met with other jurisdictions regarding the creation of a fire district. Delta Village Administrator, Brad Peebles, presented information on the logistics of the possible project. Another meeting is scheduled for later this month.

Ms. Hoelzle recently met with engineers from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Swancreek Township Trustee Rick Kazmierczak to discuss the intersection of Airport Highway and Munson Road. Despite the findings of a traffic study to the contrary, ODOT officials said a traffic signal is not warranted and recommended west and east bound turn lanes instead.

The proposed staffing change in the Fire Department of 12 full-time employees with a wage increase will require a minimum of $245,000 transfer from the General Fund.

Two tax revenue options are being explored. An additional 3.0 mil levy for Fire and Rescue which would generate $183,033 could possibly be placed on the ballot in May of 2017. A current tax credit of 0.25% for those who live in Swanton but work in a municipality whose income tax is higher than 1.0% could be removed by Council through an Ordinance. The removal would generate $129,000 at full impact in three years.

Christmas in Swanton is scheduled for December 3, 2016. A Christmas craft show in Swanton High School is scheduled to begin at 10:00 am and the parade down Main Street will start at 10:30 am.

The next Village Council meeting will take place on November 28, 2016 at 7:00 pm in the Village Council Conference Room.

Bill O’Connell may be reached at publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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