LORAIN — The city is moving toward encouraging some growth.
At a City Council meeting Monday night, the body rolled back the city’s moratorium on medicinal marijuana businesses and voted to give an option to sell 50 acres of land to Green Thumb Industries to construct a facility to cultivate it.
Mayor Chase Ritenauer said the revenue from the sale will allow the city to pay debts from the property, and a cultivation center would add jobs to the city, giving the city more dollars in its budget.
Auditor Karen Shawver said at the cost of $21,500 per acre, the city stands to earn roughly $1 million from a sale, almost the exact amount of money the city owes for a combination of state and federal loans on the land in the Colorado Avenue Industrial Park.
“By doing that, it removes some of our debt, and it allows us to spend that money elsewhere and for other things,” Ritenauer said. “We live a lot of our budget cycles down to the last dollar, and this could make a huge difference.”
According to the legislation, Green Thumb Industries has until April 2019 to take advantage of the option because of the state’s lengthy cultivation center application process.
Councilman Dennis Flores, D-2nd Ward, expressed concerns about the city administration waiting until Monday night to introduce the legislation when the deadline for cultivation center applications is the end of the month.
Councilman Mitch Fallis, D-at large, also expressed concerns about the cost of the land, wondering if the city could possibly get more for it, but Councilman Josh Thornsberry, D-8th Ward, said this is an opportunity the city should jump at.
“I think this is a great opportunity,” he said. “It’s what we’ve been looking for in the city, and I understand concerns when things come to us late, but economic development is no short of espionage anymore. Everybody’s competing, and that’s how we lose out (to) our neighbors. We need to get this. We absolutely need these jobs.”
Safety-Service Director Dan Given said the city is always reactive instead of proactive when it comes to things like this, and with the state capping the number of growers to 24, a decision needed to be made.
“It’s a win-win-win-win-win,” he said. “We need to get on board, and we need to get on board fast.”
Lorain wasn’t the only Council to discuss marijuana Monday night — Elyria’s passed a resolution stating that the city has “no objection to the applicants for licenses for cultivation, processing and/or dispensing of cannabis and associated product.”
The resolution also stated the city will cooperate in the orderly regulation of such businesses should they choose to locate to the city.
North Ridgeville considered an ordinance banning the cultivation, processing and dispensing of medical marijuana on first reading during its City Council meeting Monday. President of Council Kevin Corcoran said he expects a vote on the matter at the next scheduled Council meeting, June 19.
Reporter Scott Mahoney contributed to this story.
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