City places moratorium on marijuana facilities

by Laura Bednar

Dec. 12 city council meeting

In the wake of Ohio’s legalization of recreational marijuana, Independence City Council placed a 180-day moratorium on building permit applications for any structure that would enable the “cultivation, processing, sale and purchase of recreational marijuana.”

Vice Mayor David Grendel said other communities enacted similar moratoriums and are waiting to see what the state does in response to the November ballot issue passage. Building official Michael Gero said the city already prohibits medical marijuana facilities. and the moratorium gives the city time to decide how to proceed.

Police Chief Robert Butler explained that even though recreational marijuana is legal, people cannot smoke it in a public place and can be issued a citation for causing a disturbance. The state legislation permits adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, purchase it from retail locations and grow up to 12 plants in a private residence where at least two adults reside or six plants for an individual over 21. However, there are currently no authorized recreational marijuana sellers.

NOPEC award

Caitlin Albright from the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council presented Independence with a Green Ribbon Award, for the city’s work on energy efficient programs. Ryan Wancata, parks and recreation manager and sustainability coordinator, said the parks department installed solar panels on city golf carts to lower energy use. Previously, golf carts were constantly driven back to the garage to be charged. Wancata said the solar energy will be especially beneficial for the eight-passenger carts used during Home Days.

Caitlin Albright from the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (l) presented the city with a Green Ribbon Award that City Planner Annie Lynch (middle) and Sustainability Coordinator Ryan Wancata accepted. Photos by Laura Bednar.

Police and fire

Jordan Krushek was sworn in as Independence’s newest full-time police officer.

City council approved the purchase of two new 2025 Ford Explorer interceptors for the police department for $99,321 and two new Ford Explorer interceptors for the fire department for $104,780. Procurement Coordinator Dennis Zdolshek said the price difference is due to operable back doors for the fire vehicles.

Tax benefits

Twenty percent of a commercial truck operation to be constructed in the village of Valley View will cross property lines into Independence. As a result, the city has a revenue sharing agreement with Valley View to split the property and income taxes 70-30, with Independence receiving 30%.

Valley View is constructing a Ford Bronco Experience Center, Ford dealership and a commercial truck operation as part of its Valley Ford project. Gero said because Valley View does not have a commercial building department, Independence’s building department will be reimbursed for handling inspections and construction details. Economic Development Director Jessica Hyser said she plans to work with Valley View to designate the property as a tax increment financing district.


Council members and city officials said their goodbyes to Grendel, who did not run for re-election in November, and Clerk of Council Debi Beal, who will retire in January. Grendel served on city council for 20 years and on the Independence Local Schools Board of Education for nine years.

“You are a gentleman’s gentleman, always professional, courteous, compassionate and kind,” said Mayor Greg Kurtz about Grendel. “I will always be grateful for your friendship, calm and steady demeanor and thoughtful counsel. Thank you for leading by example and being an inspiration for so many others.”

Grendel thanked the council members, mayors and finance directors he worked with and offered gratitude to his family for supporting him.

“Dave has not only been a mentor to me but has kept council members focused and calm during heated debates,” said Councilperson Tom Narduzzi. “Dave has always been enthusiastic and committed to moving the city of Independence in the right direction, always prepared and always educated on all issues that came before council.”

Beal has worked for the city for 20 years, starting in the building department. Council members and the mayor expressed their gratitude for Beal. Said Kurtz, “Your professionalism, responsiveness and integrity speak volumes. You will be missed but not forgotten.”

“Debi has brought a high degree of professionalism to city government, has earned awards for efficiency and effectiveness,” said Councilperson Jim Trakas. “She is a master municipal clerk and has taken leadership roles within the regional clerks association. When new clerks are brought on anywhere in the region, they consult Debi for best practices. She has handled our city’s public records requests most ably, no easy task, and has always presented a can-do attitude to help residents with any need that they may request.” ∞