Wauseon Council discusses marijuana laws

Pool project held up

By David J. Coehrs - [email protected]

Beth Thomas, program director for Healthy Choice Caring Communities in Fulton County, urged Wauseon City Council to not permit medical marijuana dispensaries.

Beth Thomas, program director for Healthy Choice Caring Communities in Fulton County, urged Wauseon City Council to not permit medical marijuana dispensaries.

Fulton County health officials on Monday urged Wauseon City Council to consider bans on smoking in city parks and to place a moratorium on local medical marijuana dispensaries.

The council also learned that estimated cost overages have sent the city pool project back to square one.

Sharon Morr, Fulton County Health Center director of corporate and community health promotion, told council members that, as of July 1, 1,266 municipalities have smoke-free parks, citing the health effects of second-hand cigarette smoke. Locally, they include the villages of Delta and Archbold, which have placed “No Smoking” signs in their public parks.

“It seems to work in their communities,” Morr said.

She encouraged the City of Wauseon to draft similar legislation, and recommended that it include electronic cigarettes and vaping.

“The more we learn about e-cigarettes and the so-called harmless vapor, the more we know it’s not,” she said.

Accepting medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, which are legal following the enactment Sept. 8 of Ohio House Bill 523, would also be a mistake, according to Beth Thomas, director of Healthy Choices Caring Communities (HC3), a program through the Fulton County Health Department.

Thomas said both the villages of Archbold and Swanton have placed moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries, although “in my opinion, they’re buying time” as state legislators work to put regulations in place. She said the state’s medical marijuana program must be operational in two years, but applications for dispensaries could be available as soon as six months from now.

Wauseon can follow suit and place a moratorium on dispensaries as municipalities wait for the rules to be finalized, Thomas said. One regulation already in place prohibits dispensaries from being opened within 500 feet of schools, churches, and public libraries.

She said the city council can choose to not have dispensaries in the community or can restrict them.

“(HC3 sees) marijuana as an opportunity for kids to get introduced to the drug culture, and then they may move onto other substances,” Thomas said. She said research has shown that other states that have legalized medical marijuana have seen increases in use among adults and youth.

She also cited statistics that show a 114 percent increase traffic fatalities among drivers testing positive for marijuana.

“I would definitely recommend that there be a ban,” Thomas said of city dispensaries.

No action was taken on either issue.

Public Service Director Dennis Richardson told council members the process toward constructing a new city pool has been stalled because a single bid received for general contract work is more than $500,000, “grossly over” the project engineer’s estimate.

“So we’re back to the drawing board, literally, with the engineers. We’re trying to formulate some revisions that will get the numbers closer to the money that we have to spend,” Richardson said. General contract work will include concrete decking, a pump house, and renovating existing bath houses from the former city pool.

Voters approved a five-year, 2.6-mill tax levy last November to build a new community pool in Reighard Park. The levy will generate $290,000 annually.

The setback will delay the project by at least a month, since excavation work for the pool is part of the general contract, Richardson said.

A single bid was also received for the pool’s construction, from the Astro Pool Company of Mansfield, Ohio. Richardson said that bid was closer in line with available funds.

In department reports:

• Fire Chief Rick Sluder reported that negotiations continue with county townships regarding their fire contracts with the department.

• Police Chief Keith Torbet said the public will get an opportunity to step into police officers’ shoes at “Use of Force: You Make the Call,” scheduled Thursday, Nov. 3, from 6-9 p.m. The session will present different scenarios officers encounter when responding to calls, and allow participants to decide how to handle the situations.

Torbet said the experience will demonstrate how police officers must sometimes make split-second decisions to protect themselves or the lives of citizens. He said the program was created to answer inquiries by community members concerning how the department handles police calls.

Council President Jeff Stiriz added, “You get the call, but you really don’t know what it is until you get there. You’ve got three minutes to figure out what you’re going to do.”

• Code Administrator Tom Hall said work began last week on city sidewalk projects; upcoming work will include Willow and Third streets.

Hall reported that one house is currently under construction in the city, in the Arrowhead Trails subdivision. A house will be built on Shoop Avenue by Habitat for Humanity, and rehabilitation projects will begin on a couple of existing houses.

He commented on the current trend of so-called “tiny houses” which measure only a couple of hundred square feet. He said because the houses are so small and on wheels they can’t be regulated under the city’s building code.

However, “I’m saying we have a zoning code that already does it,” he told council members.

Hall said the city will likely have to contend with the novelty houses within the next 1 1/2 years.

• Richardson said Wauseon will retain a contract format the Ohio Department of Transportation has with consulting engineers statewide to inspect bridges for municipalities. “This is free money, and we shouldn’t look this gift horse in the mouth,” he said.

For years, all bridges in Fulton County were inspected by county engineers, but the practice was ended for liability reasons. The engineers still inspect township bridges.

Richardson said the city will hold a fall clean-up Oct. 7-15. Hours and details can be viewed at www.cityofwauseon.com.

The city has allotted $30,000 to rent disposal containers for the clean-up from Archbold Refuse Service. The containers will cost approximately $662 each.

Appliances will be accepted but must have doors and Freon removed. They will be disposed of separately from other collected refuse.

And Richardson said a “punch list” has been created to complete minor portions of the Linfoot Street reconstruction project. The street recently reopened to traffic.

• Law Director Tom McWatters III said his office will review the state’s medical marijuana law and eventually make recommendations on whether a city moratorium should be placed on marijuana dispensaries.

And Mayor Kathy Huner thanked citizens for their patience with the Linfoot Street project, especially residents and businesses located along the street.

On Monday, Richardson introduced council members to Nel Rodriguez, the city’s new recreation superintendent.

“I’m more than happy taking this position, working for the city, working for the families of kids here,” Rodriguez told them.

The city council approved:

• A resolution amending City Ordinance 2015-16, the Annual Appropriation ordinance, by authorizing Director of Fiance Jamie Giguere to increase or decrease certain line item account appropriations within various funds listed within 2016.

• A resolution accepting amounts and rates determined by the Budget Commission, authorizing tax levies, and certifying them to the county auditor. It is now in effect.

• Suspending three readings and passing on emergency the resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract for bridge inspection services with ODOT. It is now in effect.

• Second readings on resolutions to adopt classification and compensation plans for city positions.

• A second reading of a resolution to accept Revolving Loan Fund Committee recommendations authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement with Shannon’s Backyard Barbeque and Grill LLC and its principals.

• A second reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 148, Wage and Compensation Plan, of the city’s codified ordinances.

Beth Thomas, program director for Healthy Choice Caring Communities in Fulton County, urged Wauseon City Council to not permit medical marijuana dispensaries.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2016/09/web1_beth-thomas.jpgBeth Thomas, program director for Healthy Choice Caring Communities in Fulton County, urged Wauseon City Council to not permit medical marijuana dispensaries.
Pool project held up

By David J. Coehrs

[email protected]

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.