PIQUA — Piqua City Commissioner Thomas Fogt called on the Piqua City Commission to consider discussing lifting the ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of Piqua during the commission’s meeting on Tuesday evening.
“Tonight, I’d like to poise the question out to the commissioners to see if we can pull this out of moratorium and put this conversation back on the table between the Planning Commission and also the City Commission itself,” Fogt said. “I’ve been doing a lot of research on this, and I’m more than willing to provide the research that I’ve been digging into with the amount of licenses that are authorized by the state, criminal numbers in certain cities that do have the dispensaries in them.”
Fogt specifically mentioned resolution R-94-16, which was one of the two 180-day moratoriums the city put on “the granting of any permit allowing retail dispensaries, cultivators, or processors of medical marijuana within the city of Piqua,” first in August 2016 and then in January 2017. In May 2017, the commission amended the zoning code within the city of Piqua to prohibit medical marijuana cultivators, processors, and/or retail dispensaries within the city.
Fogt also stressed he only wanted to consider opening up the zoning code to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to locate in Piqua, not cultivators.
“What I want to make clear is that I’m looking at the dispensary side of this, not the cultivation side or anything like that,” Fogt said. “Just more or less along the dispensary side, which could help in a lot of ways in the community, helping with pharmaceutical drugs, trying to get people off them as much as possible and go to more of a regiment like this.”
City Manager Gary Huff said it would take the consensus of at least three commissioners to have the city bring the moratorium up for discussion again, and commissioner Kazy Hinds and Mayor Kris Lee each said they were open to discussing the moratorium. No commissioner spoke against taking up the discussion. Huff said the moratorium was put in place in 2017 because “there were no guidelines” for medical marijuana facilities at that time.
Hinds was mayor at the time the original moratorium was put in place and is the only current member of the commission who was sitting on the commission at the time the moratorium began. Hinds said the commission received input from the city law director at the time, Stacy Wall, as well as from Dr. Jim Burkhardt, a local family physician and currently the medical director of the Piqua Health Board.
“If we do this, I say let’s do that again,” Hinds said. “Let’s make sure we get all of that information so that we know what we’re going into.” She reiterated what Huff said regarding guidelines. “We didn’t have any guidelines at that point so now we have some guidelines. So I have no problems with it, I just want to make sure we do all of our due diligence and homework with it.”
“I’d like to see it go forward, pull it out of moratorium so we could explore it,” Mayor Kris Lee said.
Fogt suggested having the Planning Commission look at lifting the city’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, as well as the City Commission.
Darby Wright remembered
The city and the commission also recognized the loss of Darby Wright, 21, of Piqua, who passed away unexpectedly Sunday, April 19. Wright was an employee at the Piqua Health and Sanitation Department.
“Darby was an outstanding employee,” Huff said. “It’s a tremendous loss for the city … Our thoughts and prayers are extended to his entire family.”
“He always had a smile on his face. He was always positive,” Hinds said. Hinds grew emotional as she said Wright was “a joy to see,” both as a city employee and also when Wright was in the Piqua Show Choir.
“My son, who is now in show choir, looked up to him,” Hinds said. “Our hearts go out to his family and his friends.”
“My heart went out and continues to go out (to the family),” Lee said. The other commissioners also offered their condolences.
City to pave new public parking lot
The commission also approved the purchase of property in downtown Piqua that will be turned into a public parking lot. It authorized the purchase of real property known as part of Inlot 36 and Inlot 37, which is currently a private gravel parking lot at the northeast corner of Water Street and Main Street, in the amount of $70,000. The city plans to pave the lot and make the lot a public parking lot.
“It creates 42 new public parking spaces,” Community and Economic Development Director Chris Schmiesing said.
Schmiesing said there are 24 existing businesses, which employ approximately 75 people in the downtown, within one block of this parking lot, as well as the Fort Piqua Plaza, Lock 9 Park, and six residential, retail, and/or business-related redevelopments that are currently ongoing. He said those redevelopments are in excess of $1 million, and he added there are approximately an additional six other properties that the city is having discussions with developers about and, if redeveloped, those improvements would be in excess of $14 million. This new public parking lot will be able to help support each of those redevelopment activities. Schmiesing added the city is applying for a grant to cover the cost of paving the lot.