Council approves marijuana ban

Staging yard update given

By Drew Stambaugh -

Swanton Village Council last Monday approved a medical marijuana ban and rebranding of the wastewater treatment plant.

An ordinance prohibiting the cultivation, processing or retail dispensing of medical marijuana was approved unanimously by Village Council. It was approved as an emergency measure, meaning only one reading was required as opposed to the normal three readings.

Violation of the new ordinance is a misdemeanor of the first degree.

The state law passed by the Ohio General Assembly gives legislative authority to municipalities to adopt an ordinance to prohibit or limit the number of cultivators, processors or retail dispensaries.

The ordinance replaces the temporary moratorium approved in August 2016. That temporary moratorium expired in February, leading to the need for emergency passage.

“At the Nov. 14 2016, Public Safety Committee meeting there was a recommendation to proceed with a complete ban on the cultivating, processing, and dispensing of medical marijuana,” said Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle. “The Planning Commission had also reviewed the issue and recommended the outright ban.”

The ordinance goes into effect immediately.

“There are so many unanswered questions and it is understood that regulations on this state law will not go into effect until 2018. Village Council looked to be proactive with the public’s welfare in mind,” said Hoelzle.

Upon recommendation of the Water and Sewer Committee, Council also voted to approve the rebranding of the wastewater treatment plant. It will now be known as the Water Resource Recovery Facility.

Council also approved the resignation of Tom Gulch, a member of the fire department, effective Jan. 10.

Administrator Report

• Hoelzle told council that an initial meeting of the Safe Routes to School stakeholder team was held Jan. 17. Goals and objectives were discussed.

“The Safe Routes to School plan is the first step that we as a community would do to be eligible for funding for a variety of different things,” said Hoelzle. “For example, we acknowledge that there needs to be sidewalks near Crestwood (Elementary School).”

Maumee Valley Planning Organization (MVPO) will work on a vision statement and the next steps for the plan.

“I think we’re on a good path,” said Hoelzle.

• Hoelzle also met with MVPO and discussed zoning and nuisance sections of the codified ordinances and ways to update those sections. Also discussed was the next round of Community Development Block Grant applications.
The village will be assisted by MVPO on evaluating needs for future projects and will gather ideas from the community.
• Brief updates were given on a pair of restaurants. Hoelzle met with the owner of the former Shuckers restaurant and was told there may be interest in some outside updates. Village officials will work with them on compliance with the code

At the next Planning Commission meeting, Taco Bell will be requesting variances to signage at their proposed location at Airport Highway and Hallett Avenue.

• There will be two village clean-up days in 2017 – May 13 and Sept. 9. They will be held at the Public Service Department on Bassett Avenue. In addition to the usual items, this year will include electric waste drop-off and document shredding.

• At the Feb. 27 Committee of the Whole meeting, Swanton Cemetery and the maintenance of it will be discussed. Swancreek Township representatives will be invited to the meeting.

The cemetery is owned by Swancreek Township but is surrounded by several properties within the village limits.

Other business

• Water and sewer rates were discussed at the Public Service Committee meeting. The issue was tabled by the committee, according to Tamara Haselman, committee chair.

• A grant was received for 50 percent of phase one of the Church Street repaving project.

• Long-term parking in the industrial area of the village was discussed by the Public Safety Committee. Some restructuring of parking regulations is possible in the future. The issue of the long-term parking of commercial trucks on Lincoln Avenue was discussed at a previous meeting.

Staging Yard

During the Committee of the Whole meeting following the regular meeting, the Norfolk Southern staging yard was discussed. Hoelzle said she has talked to the village’s attorney about the matter and he is looking into pursuing a possible different avenue to fight back against the railyard, although she could give no specifics.

Scott Cole, a conductor for 42 years and union leader, spoke to council, and has spoken with Hoezle, who relayed the information to the village attorney. Cole’s said his concerns about the project stem from the collective bargaining agreement between the union and Norfolk Southern.

He is currently part of a suit and counter-suit involving Norfolk Southern, so he could not give a lot of details. He did say the problems with coal are not the worries that village residents should have.

Some at the meeting took that to mean an intermodal facility could be in the works. When previously asked about an intermodal in Swanton, Dave Pidgeon, Norfolk Southern public relations manager, said people are engaging in “pretty spectacular speculation.” He added they have enough capacity in Toledo with an intermodal facility there.

“If we’re talking an intermodal site, that is something totally different than a staging yard,” said Council member Dianne Westhoven. “I’ve seen the intermodal sites and they’re a hot mess.”

Also at the meeting, councilman Jeff Pilliod said he spoke to State Senator Cliff Hite, and said Hite wants to be kept in the loop and help however he can.

“It’s not something we’ve forgotten about,” said Hoelzle. “We have been working on it… We are doing the best that we can with what we have, and I think that the information from Mr. Cole is going to hopefully help and we’ll take it into consideration as we move forward on this issue.”

Staging yard update given

By Drew Stambaugh

Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010

Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010