Council extends moratorium on marijuana sales, cultivation

by Laura Bednar

May 14 city council meeting

Independence City Council extended the city’s moratorium on accepting applications or granting certificates of occupancy for any building that would enable the cultivation and purchase of recreational marijuana through Aug. 30.

The original moratorium was enacted in December 2023 following Ohio’s legalization of recreational marijuana. It was set to expire on June 10.

On first reading was legislation that would prohibit adult-use cannabis operators, including cultivators, processors and dispensaries in the commercial district. Residents would still be permitted by state law to cultivate marijuana in a home garden.

Councilperson Jim Trakas said the Ohio Revised Code allows communities to enact some regulations on cannabis locally. He cited the city’s existing policy on prohibiting medicinal marijuana dispensaries.

“This would extend the prohibition on medical marijuana to consumer marijuana,” he said.

The legislation would prohibit the cultivation of marijuana on a large-scale within the city and/or sales in retail locations, according to Trakas.

The legislation was left on first reading until council could discuss it further.

Property acquisition

Engineer Don Ramm said as part of the Longano Drive reconstruction project, catch basins and storm sewers will be installed on four properties that have poor drainage. Residents were asked to donate storm drainage easements to the city to enable the drainage system.

Of the four properties, three were donated and one was purchased for $15,000, because that property owner was bearing the brunt of the work disruption, according to Ramm.

Said Ramm, “We had desired to expand the intersection and entranceway [of Longano]. In order to do that, we needed additional real estate.”

Cornerstone of Hope agreed to donate an 11-foot strip of land for the city to complete this work.


The police department will purchase 24 new Tasers, one for each patrol officer and sergeant. Police Chief Robert Butler said this is the first time that has happened in department history. The Tasers cost $111,009, and the money is coming from the department’s federal forfeiture fund. Butler said the Tasers are the newest, most sought after equipment and shoot both farther and closer than current models. Three officers will become master trainers and teach other officers how to use the Tasers.

The community services department is purchasing glassware, flatware and dinnerware for $21,428. Community Services Director Emily Thomas said the newly remodeled Civic Center kitchen now has a dishwasher, allowing the city to be more sustainable by moving away from paper and plastic dinnerware. The cost is within the community services operating budget.

Thomas asked for quotes from three vendors about the cost of bowls, plates, cups and silverware for 300 people.

“These items would be used for any internal city event,” she said, adding that they would not be available for private groups using a meeting room.

Trakas said, “I’m worried we’re trying to get into the catering business here. We’ve got hotels that are around.” Trakas was the sole dissenting vote.

Vice Mayor Anthony Togliatti asked how much the city spends on disposable dinnerware yearly. Thomas answered, $10,000 annually and expected that figure to rise as prices of paper products increase.

Public participation

Resident Jeff Blumenthal stated his concerns about the planned housing development on the former Concordia Lutheran Church property. He read comments Mayor Greg Kurtz made at a November 2022 council workshop before the land purchase was finalized.

In that meeting, Kurtz said, “the first quarter of next year [2023] would be the time I would say that we would have the planner come in, make a presentation to the council, to the planning commission, to the residents and then we could all weigh in.”

Blumenthal also noted that Kurtz said, “I don’t see anything happening functionally until input from the residents the first quarter of next year.”

“So now it’s the second quarter of 2024. Has any of this been done or completed?” said Blumenthal.

Resident Jim Harmath thanked Butler for scheduling “Coffee with a Cop.” He said the officers were professional, courteous, well informed and answered his questions clearly. ∞