EXPRESSING HIS CONCERN … Dr. Michael Mattin addresses council and speaks about drug abuse being, in his mind, an epidemic. (PHOTOS BY JACOB KESSLER, STAFF)
By: Jacob Kessler
On Monday, October 18th the Delta Village council held a meeting at 5:30 p.m. The council chamber was filled with village residents and concerned citizens due to an item on the agenda regarding medical marijuana.
The Ordinance itself states “to protect the residents and guests of the Village of Delta, and to ensure the general welfare of the community, Council wishes to establish regulations and licenses for the cultivation, processing and/or sale of marijuana within the Village of Delta.”
It goes on to state, “The Village Council hereby allows for the issuance of permits, licenses and approval for medical marijuana cultivation, processing and/or sale of similar businesses upon the proper application of said business to the Village and upon approval of the application by the Village Council upon terms and conditions to be set forth by this council.”
Residents were still entering the chambers even after the meeting began which was started with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer.
The first order of business was to swear in a new Police Officer for the Village, Jared Wood. Mayor Wilton moved to swear in Officer Wood as the newest addition to the Village of Delta Police Department.
Afterwards, council moved to approve the minutes from the previous meeting that took place on October 4th before moving on to hear public that were present to address council. Before anyone could address council, Law Director Kevin Heban was asked to address the large amount of visitors.
Mr. Heban explained that in 2016 Ohio allowed for medical marijuana and in 2016 and 2017 council passed moratoriums to prohibit permits. The state has since re-opened the application process to accept more inquires.
“Mr. Peebles stated to me that the village was contacted regarding an inquiry and asked what we could do. Due to zoning, if they meet requirements and since a moratorium is no longer in place there is nothing that could be done if the application is submitted.”
Mr. Heban went on to explain that at this point, dispensaries are like a Walgreens, and they cannot be prevented.
The Village Administrator then went around and handed people packets to hand around that speak to the wording of the ordinance. Mayor Wilton then read a letter from Bonnie Leach.
The letter stated that she was unable to attend the meeting but was against marijuana being grown or sold inside or outside the village limits.
Council then moved to hear from the public that was present with Dr. Michael Mattin speaking first. Dr. Mattin explained that he is a lifelong resident of Delta and is currently the School Board President, an ER Doctor and the Medical Director for a hospital in Toledo before going on to talk about his views on marijuana.
“Mentally kids are struggling. Drug use right now is at epidemic proportions. I worry about the culture we are trying to set in our community. We want to be a district of choice and I am telling you if I didn’t live here and I saw a bunch of dispensaries in town, I don’t know if I would think that way. If you don’t want this then change the ordinance to say ban,” said Dr. Mattin.
Tracy Ruple spoke next and asked the council to represent those in the community. “I am asking everyone on council to represent us, represent the parents, the community, the school, and everyone in this district. I ask you to ban it.”
“We don’t want it in our community. I don’t care about how much money it will generate. It’s not the kind of money we want to build our community with,” said Ruple.
Next, Doug Ford voiced his concerns. “I am not here as an adversary; I am here to advocate for our children. I am concerned as to why this was put on as an emergency resolution.”
“My conclusion is that with marijuana dispensaries, marijuana access will increase and would be more available to our young people. I am not here to debate Federal and or State legislation that may legalize marijuana.”
“I am here simply asking you, our council to do everything in your power as our local government to protect our youth and their access to marijuana.”
Moving to the next visitor, Pastor Matthew Voyer spoke regarding his view on the timing of the ordinance. “I am really concerned about the timing of this.
On September 20th, Beth Thomas and I were here on behalf of HC3 to present some information and ask for conversations. No such questions were asked. On October 4th I was here again because I was scheduled to pray. I stayed for the whole meeting, hoping for some conversation and again, there was no conversation to be had.”
Mr. Voyer continued with, “Friday morning the 15th I was at an unrelated meeting attended by two of our village council members. After the meeting was wrapping up, I asked them for some advice on following up and we talked.”
“They seemed to have no idea that this was going to be on the agenda as an emergency. I wish I could say this timeline revealed incompetence, but I don’t think it does. I think it is abusive. I think it’s corrupt, and it’s not how local government is supposed to function. This conversation is too important to be treated this way.”
After Mr. Voyer finished speaking, the Director of HC3 Beth Thomas came up to speak. She asked the law director for clarifications regarding the ordinance.
Mr. Heban offered her some clarifications and she continued on to point out the stances of other locations in the county. “If you are enacting today, my assumption and it is an assumption that you are supportive of marijuana,” said Beth Thomas to which Mayor Wilton replied with “no that’s not the case.”
Beth Thomas continued with “We will agree to disagree at this point. Every other community and village in Fulton County have passed an ordinance or moratorium against this issue. What do they recognize that you have not? I ask you and urge you to vote no and give the community the opportunity to let you know how they feel about this very very important issue.”
Next, was Superintendent of Delta Schools Ted Hasselman who stated that he stands behind everything that had been said so far during the meeting by residents. He also went on to ask why the ordinance leaves a window open at all and does not outright ban it entirely.
Jesus Flores was next to speak and spoke to defend the ordinance being presented by council. “I think you guys are missing the point. This is good money for the business. I do not smoke marijuana or any of that stuff.”
“It’s not about kids just going up and buying it from a dispensary. You can’t do that. It’s a lot of money we are missing out on that would go to a lot of things in this town. Sports, travel expenses, food for kids. You guys want to say it isn’t about money but it’s a lot of money we will be missing out on.”
“Everybody just had to pay taxes again. Let’s help out the town. If this takes two weeks to pass so, be it. Everyone couldn’t make it with a two-day notice. I ask everyone to think about it,” said Mr. Flores.
More residents came up to the podium as the meeting went on to speak about various things such as the reputation of Morenci and not wanting that for the Village of Delta and in regard to substance abuse and counseling.
After hearing everyone that wanted to speak, council moved to correspondence with nothing being presented.
There was also no report given from the Village Administrator which led to the finance director asking for a motion to approve invoices which passed. With nothing to hear from the Police Chief or Law Director, council moved to old business.
First was a Third Reading for Resolution 21-17 regarding a necessity to levy a tax in excess of the ten-mil limitation. A motion was made to approve the Resolution which passed.
Next was the Third Reading for Resolution 21-18 which gave authorization to the Village Administrator to execute agreements with certified oil company for the purchase of property located at 200 Main Street. A motion was made to approve the Resolution which passed
Moving to new business, Council heard the First Reading for Ordinance 21-13 regarding appropriations for the Village of Delta for the year 2022. A motion was made to approve the Ordinance which passed.
Next council moved on to hear the First Reading with Emergency Provisions for Ordinance 21-14. The ordinance was in regard to the allowing for the issuance of permits, licenses and approval for marijuana cultivation, processing and/or sale or similar business within the Village of Delta and declaring an emergency.
Tony Dawson asked if the ordinance was tabled until the first of November if it would cover us for when the bids opened up.
His concern was with an application being submitted and a dispensary going up on Main Street. The Village Administrator stated that the only restriction with one going on Main Street would be that it cannot be within 500 feet of a designated location such as a playground, church, library, or a school.
Mr. Dawson continued with “What we’re thinking about is having it at the Industrial Park.” Residents began to get unhappy with this statement as they viewed it as the decision was already made and that it had been discussed more in depth than previously stated.
EXPLAINING THE ORDINANCE … Law Director Kevin Heban addresses village residents that have gathered during the meeting to explain to them the purpose for Ordinance 21-14.
Mr. Dawson then stated that the location was chosen in case one did come in. A village resident then stood up and asked for the ordinance to be read and explained because the way he is reading it, it shows that the Village is giving them permission and permits to come into the Village.
The Law Director then stated that the ordinance is giving the Village Council all control on where it goes in the Village and if it can come in at all.
The Village Administrator then stated that a conversation took place between Mr. Dawson and himself in regard to his own opinion as to if a marijuana location were to come in, where the best place for it would be.
Council then moved to make a motion for the Ordinance. The motion to suspend the rules failed moving the Ordinance to a first reading. A motion was made to approve the First Reading of Ordinance 21-14 which passed 4-1.
Council then moved to hear the First Reading with Emergency Provisions for Ordinance 21-15 regarding giving approval for the recodification, editing and inclusion of certain ordinances as parts of the various component codes of the codified ordinances of the Village of Delta and declaring an Emergency. A motion was made to approve the ordinance which passed.
Next was the First Reading for Ordinance 21-16 regarding the authorization for the administration to enter into an agreement with the Pike-Delta-York-Local School District. A motion was made to approve the ordinance which passed.
Lastly was the First Reading with Emergency Provisions for Resolution 21-20 regarding the acceptance of the amounts and rates as determined for the budget commission and authorizing the necessary tax levies and certifying them to the county auditor and declaring an emergency.
A motion was made to suspend the rules which passed followed by a motion to approve the resolution which also passed.
The Mayor then reopened the floor for questions about the meeting. Several residents asked questions as to what the next steps were with the Mayor stating that it is up to council in regard to what happens next and that residents should let them know how they feel and to put their words into writing.
The question was also brought up as to why the conversation was not opened up to the public in the first place. It was also asked if the company asking for a permit was Nature Fresh Farms.
The Village Administrator stated that they have no interest in growing marijuana in the United States according to those in charge at the Delta location.
The Village Administrator was also asked if the Village was approached by companies asking to put something in Delta. He stated that two companies have approached the Village.
Council was then asked directly why they would not vote to prevent it from coming in at all. Council members stated that they are voting this way to do more research and because it is for medical reasons, and they personally know people with issues that are helped by it.
Council Member Lynn Frank then began asking questions to the Law Director and Village Administrator about what would happen with a moratorium.
She then made a motion to have a one-year moratorium drawn up which passed. A vote for both the moratorium and the ordinance will take place at the next meeting on November 1st, at 5:30 p.m. Whichever motion passes will cancel the other out. Council then moved to adjourn for the evening.
After the meeting, Mayor Frank Wilton spoke with the Village Reporter and stated that everyone found out about all of this last Tuesday or Wednesday. But he himself feels as though, if it was to be approved, instead of it being controlled by the underworld the parents would become the responsible party.
Council Member Michael Tanner also spoke and stated that people change their minds based on facts. “I always believe people will change their minds with facts. To me, I look at this at a medical standpoint because that is how it is presented to me with the State of Ohio. Even here in Delta, it is a medical issue, not recreational.”
“So, it is hard for me to see this in a bad light and put it against an opioid that is heavily addictive and kills so many people. I have done research and I cannot find a single documented case of a medical marijuana death taking place either.”
“My hope is that this will move forward in a positive light, and I would like to hear more sides of it.”
Pastor Voyer also spoke after the meeting and stated his feelings on how small government is supposed to be run. “We have failed to have the conversation that needs to be happening. It implies to me that if they are having the moratorium but not asking the questions, I think it is at best ineffective leadership.”
“I presented the timeline to get questions and tried to have the conversation but got nothing, and for that to happen for us and including other council members to be blindsided by this, it just isn’t the way small government is supposed to be run.”
Jacob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org