Council voting to keep commercial marijuana businesses out of residential areas

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 6, 2024

On the agenda of the Ironton City Council on Thursday, Dec. 28, was the issue of where marijuana can be grown or sold commercially in the city.

Ordinance 23-82 would not allow “marijuana businesses for the growing and/or dispensing of marijuana be prohibited in R-1, R-1A, R-2, and R-3 districts of the City, other than for personal use,” which means that those businesses could not be in the areas of Ironton that are designated as residential areas.

In the November 2023 election, voters passed State Issue 2 which allows adults 21 and over to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and to grow up to six plants per individual or 12 plants per household at home. The state legislature has until July to set up a system for marijuana sales, which will have a 20 percent sales.

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The council also passed a resolution supporting state legislation that would permit municipalities to share in marijuana tax revenue since those cities would be providing services like police and fire protection.

The ordinance has to be voted on three times, which will take some time. There has to be a recommendation from the Planning Commission and there will be a public meeting on the subject on Feb. 8 at 5:15 p.m. in council chambers before the council votes on it a third time. So, the council is likely to table the ordinance at the Jan. 11 meeting and then take it back up again in February.

Another item on the agenda was setting the rental costs of the spaces in the lobby of the City Center.

The ordinance would raise rates due to the increase costs of heat, electricity, water, insurance and liability and that the rent has not increased in at least a decade. The rates would go up this year and would increase over the next five years.

Councilman Chris Haney said he was in favor of it and that the step increase was so that the tenants wouldn’t face a sudden “whammy.”

Councilman Bob Cleary said that he could see raising rents because it is probably needed but that it shouldn’t be a money maker for the city. He voted no on the issue. 

The ordinance passed with five “aye” votes and will take effect on Jan. 28.

Other items on the agenda included a resolution setting the salaries of non-union city employees and authorizing the new vice mayor Craig Harvey to be the signatory on all the city’s financial accounts, but that doesn’t take effect for 30 days.

The council appointed Brent Pyles to serve on the Planning Commission board and Mark Dickess was reappointed to the Ironton City Board of Health.

In the audience participation part of the agenda, Mayor Sam Cramblit II said that the Third Street project may be going out to be rebid after the estimate came back higher than expected.

The city got a $2.1 million federal grant plus $700,00 in local matching funds for the stretch of South Third Street from the VFW Post 8850 hall to Icy Creek, which Cramblit has called a “Frankenstein road” since it has around 90-100 patches on the three-quarter mile stretch of road. 

The project also includes replacing just under a mile and half of 10-inch water lines that go down South Third Street, cut through the alley behind Discount Tire Service, go up to Fifth Street and then down Fifth Street to McGovney Street and then loop back to South Third Street along South Third Street to alleviate flooding that occurs when the aging pipes break and flood basements in the area.

“The estimated cost was $2.8 million and the lowest bid was around $3.3 million,” Cramblit said. “So that’s why we’ve had to go back to the drawing board.”

He said it was the road and the pipe work was all bid as one project, but it might be more feasible to be bid as separate projects.

The Ironton City Council meets next at 6 p.m. Jan. 11 in Council chambers on the third floor of the Ironton City Center.