Two weeks after being lambasted by angry residents for proposing a medical marijuana trade within the community, Delta Village Council suggested letting voters decide.
At a standing-room-only meeting held Monday, Council amended an ordinance on the agenda that called for a one-year moratorium in the village on state-sanctioned medical marijuana businesses, reducing the moratorium’s reach to May 31, 2022. The change will allow the proposal to go on the May ballot.
The move permitted Council also to strike down the second reading of an ordinance that would allow a medical marijuana trade in the village.
The action came about following a sometimes raucous Oct. 18 Council meeting during which dozens of attending residents railed angrily against first reading approval of the ordinance to permit local medical marijuana businesses. The residents’ objections were relentless enough to convince Council members to authorize Village Law Director Keith Heban to draft a proposed one-year moratorium in Delta on state-sanctioned marijuana businesses for Monday’s meeting.
However, Village Administrator Brad Peebles introduced the amended version of the moratorium, saying voters should decide the outcome of the proposed businesses. Council members also passed a motion allowing Peebles and Heban to draft legislation for the May ballot, to be introduced at meeting.
Peebles outlined village parameters for medical marijuana businesses, which include: sites being constructed in the village industrial park; a review of building concepts to ensure professional looking facilities; construction of grow houses in an industrial fashion; and the number of dispensaries and processing facilities limited to two each.
He told Council an impact fee of $1 million per building per year would be enacted, with half the fee going into the village’s general fund and half going to Pike-Delta-York schools. A stipulation would be included to ensure the school district used $100,000 of its share for educational support for drug prevention.
Peebles emphasized that medical marijuana businesses seeking tax abatements would not be issued a license.
The initial proposal to permit the businesses in Delta came after the state announced plans to reopen permit applications in early November and the village received inquiries from two parties about opening dispensaries in the village. The village previously set one-year moratoriums on issuing permits in 2016 and 2017 because the state’s rules on permits hadn’t been finalized.
Heban previously told Council that without a village moratorium on medical marijuana trade, “If they meet our zoning classification, we can’t do anything because the (second village) moratorium has since passed.”
Despite the passage of a moratorium, attending residents felt compelled to approach a podium to comment on a proposed marijuana trade.
Resident Mike Ford told Council members, “I certainly agree it’s for the voters to decide…I would ask this group to take the accountability you have very, very seriously – Mr. Peebles, particularly you – on the social impacts, and to really appreciate it. I think it’s a much, much bigger issue for many people than financial.”
Ford added that he doesn’t see the need to rush the issue by putting it to a vote. “Please don’t rush the decision. Let’s get the clarity,” he said.
Lynette Nation said her research has shown that the main concern for village residents should be air filtration at the medical marijuana growing facilities. She said studies have shown students at schools in the area reported headaches from the odor, and residents were forced to wear masks in their yards and purchase expensive filtration systems for their homes.
“There’s a huge odor that comes from these growing facilities that can travel to a one-mile radius around the area…so air filtration is huge,” Nation said.
Doug Ford, a principal in the P-D-Y school district, said he’s all for growth in Delta, but “This is not the growth I thought about while growing up in Delta.”
Ford noted a community filled with families located near the proposed industrial park site for medical marijuana businesses, and what that would expose the children to.
“And that’s what I’m here for, to advocate for our kids,” he said.
Resident Dan Elliott said he considers the $1 million impact fee a bribe from the medical marijuana industry disguised as a way to financially help the village.
“I particularly find it insulting that $100,000 of that is supposed to go to our kids to tell them that drugs are bad,” he said. “I’m angry, and all the time here I’ve been raising my children, this is the first time that I’ve actually ever considered to moving them out…This should not be here at all – point blank.”
In other business, Delta Village Council approved the following ordinances: a second reading approving and authorizing the village administration to enter into agreement with the P-D-Y school district; a first reading establishing village employees’ salaries and wages; a first reading supplementing ordinance 20-30 to make supplemental appropriations for current village expenses for Fiscal Year 2021.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.