LAGRANGE TWP. — Residents in and around LaGrange Township voiced their concerns about a possible medical marijuana cultivation site on Vermont Street during the township’s trustee meeting Monday.
The meeting attracted about 40 people — many of them expressing concerns that the measure was pushed through by the trustees last summer without a proper public hearing. Because of residents’ concerns, Doug Gardner said, the board has placed a six month moratorium on any other cultivation applications to allow trustees time to research and review information.
Ryan Smith, who lives on the border of LaGrange Township in Penfield Township, presented his concerns to the board. He has been a trauma intensive care nurse for the past 10 years, he said, and is a compassionate person, but he still doesn’t see the need for a marijuana cultivator in LaGrange
“I was told at the last meeting ‘If it was across the street from me, Ryan, I would learn to love it. It wouldn’t bother me,’ by (Rita) Canfield,” Smith said. “This is an easy statement to make, seeing as it is not across the street from you, and it won’t affect you like me with my three small children and many other residents in the area.”
He stressed there is not an economic benefit to the township to allow a cultivator into the area, and that all of the surrounding townships voted against it.
Kathy Poling, of LaGrange Township, voiced similar concerns to Smith’s.
“The first time any of this marijuana cultivation was mentioned was May 22 … The next mention was on Dec. 11, the discussion was held on concerns about the marijuana cultivation permit … issued by the state. There was two times that it was mentioned in the zoning meeting, June and July, and it was tabled both times … There’s just an awful lot of things that just don’t gel. It’s almost like it’s shady.”
Trustee Rita Canfield said the board holds work sessions the first Monday of every month, where trustees dissect issues more so than they can discuss those issues at a regular meeting. No action is taken at these work sessions, so there are no minutes, but the sessions are open to the public.
“A lot of that discussion that you feel is missing is probably happening in those work sessions,” Canfield said.
The property’s current zoning allows for agricultural use, according to Gardner, though it is zoned residential. Eric Bregar, who also lives on Vermont Street, pointed out that 30 to 40 percent of the road is agriculture.
“Marijuana is a seed, cultivation, harvested just like beans and corn” Bregar said. “So the (Ohio Department of Agriculture) may not have the verbiage yet because marijuana’s only been legal in Ohio for a year. But I’m sure in the next year or so, the verbiage is going to change.”
The issue may be on the agenda at the township’s next zoning meeting, but the agenda and meeting date has yet to be set as the zoning inspector is out of town, according to the trustees.
Gardner said it’s good to have public input on the issue, and that the board will work to advertise its meetings on Facebook and in newspapers.
“There is no decision being made on whether we will or will not ban, totally ban or define areas or anything else,” Gardner said. “There’s all types of options on the table as we move ahead. That’s why we put the moratorium on, so we could find all the facts we possibly can … And believe me, folks, it does help to have people here to express their concerns.”
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