COVINGTON — The village of Covington is the latest in the area to consider adopting a 180-day moratorium in regard to medical marijuana facilities.
Monday evening, Covington Council held the first reading of a resolution adopting a moratorium on granting any permit allowing retail dispensaries, cultivators, or processors of medical marijuana within the village of Covington.
Ohio’s medical marijuana bill will go into effect on Sept. 8. Gov. John Kasich signed the bill on June 9. The law would allow patients to use marijuana in vapor form for certain chronic health conditions, but ban them from smoking it or growing it at home.
Under the law, cities and towns could choose to ban dispensaries or limit the number of them. Licensed cultivators, processors, dispensaries, and testing laboratories cannot be within 500 feet of schools, churches, public libraries, playgrounds, or parks. Employers could continue to enforce drug-testing policies and maintain drug-free workplaces. Banks that provide services to marijuana-related entities would be protected from criminal prosecution.
Piqua and Troy have approved similar moratoriums. Beavercreek also has imposed a moratorium.
“What this moratorium does is it just allows the village to assess what they want to do with these type of facilities within the next six months,” Village Attorney Frank Patrizio said. “Basically, (it) gives the village time to react.”
Patrizio asked the council to approve the resolution after its second reading during their next meeting before Sept. 8.
Also during council’s meeting, they discussed a proposed traffic study to attempt to lower the speed limit on East Broadway from 45 mph to 35 mph due to the addition of the new school drive coming off of that road.
“I have had some discussions with ODOT (Ohio Department of Transporation) about the speed limit on East Broadway. It is currently 45 mph out by the fire department,” Village Administrator Mike Busse said. “We would like to see the speed reduced to 35 mph.”
Busse explained that ODOT requires a speed study to be completed before they consider their request. Busse provided a quote from Choice One to complete the study at a cost of a $3,675.
There is no guarantee that the village will be able to lower the speed limit even if they complete a study. Busse said they may get it lowered to 40 mph, but he was not able to say for sure. Council members questioned whether or not it was worth paying for a speed study if they are unaware of what the stipulations would be in order to qualify lowering the speed limit. Busse said ODOT had not provided that information.
“I would like to know what criteria it actually takes to get the speed limit down to 35 mph,” council member Scott Tobias said. “They can tell us that. They have that formula.”
Busse said he would try to find out more information before council decided to spend the money on a speed study.
“But 45 mph, common sense tells me that’s just way too fast,” Mayor Ed McCord said.
In regard to the Safe Routes to School project, Busse said that the low bidder for the project was L.J. Deweese from Tipp City with a bid amount of $28,550. There will also be the 10 percent contingency of $21,855 and ODOT’s 10 percent contingency of $21,855, making the total budget $262,260 for the project. ODOT will fund $240,000, and the village will fund $22,260. Busse said that, based on this budget, the village will get a refund check from ODOT for around $29,240.
Council also discussed possibly purchasing additional trash and recycling toters, then financing them over the next two years. Busse said he requested a payoff of their current lease for the toters they are still paying for, and the lease is currently around $9,000. The village has budgeted $10,000 for this year.
The question of implementing a low-volume trash program was also brought up again with some hesitation. Council member Bud Weer expressed that they did not have enough data about how many Covington residents would possibly participate in the possible program.
Weer said that the village would need time to gather that kind of information. “If we discuss it next week, we’re not going to have anymore information than we did today,” he said. “That’s going to take some time to do … I think we got to have that data.”
“It’s probably going to be harder to get that information put down on paper than it seems, but I’m sure we can do it,” Busse said.
Council member Joyce Robertson said she was unsure if she could support possibly raising fees in order to make a low-volume trash program financially possible.
“I don’t know if I could support an increase to the fees … for low-volume trash,” Robertson said. “Why should, say, 80 percent of the village pay more so that 20 percent people paid less?”
It was unclear during the meeting how a possible low-volume trash program would affect trash fees.
Council later approved levying special assessments for paying the cost of lighting the streets in the village. The cost levied will be $45,000, and it has been that same amount for the past two years.
Also during the meeting, various upcoming meetings were scheduled. Council’s next regular meeting was rescheduled to Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. due to Labor Day. Two public hearings were also scheduled to discuss gas and electric aggregation on Sept. 19, and Oct. 17, at 6:30 p.m. Each of those meetings will be held at the government building at 1 S. High St.
During public comment, resident Dwayne Robertson asked council if the local chapter of Feed Ohio could put a barrel in the lobby of the government building to collect food items for local foodbanks. It is a 100 percent volunteer effort timed in conjunction with the National Day of Service on Sept. 11. The local chapter will distribute approximately 24 barrels around the area locally, which will be sitting out for the entire month of September.
Interested people can also send monetary donations to the following foodbanks, including a note saying that the donation is for Feed Ohio:
• St. Patrick Soup Kitchen, 25 N. Mulberry Street, Troy
• Needy Basket, 330 South Fifth Street, Tipp City
• The New Path, Inc., 1405 South County Road 25-A, Troy
For more information, visit www.feedohio.org.
Reach the writer at (927) 451-3336