Orange Township trustees have scheduled a special meeting to discuss and possibly take action to prohibit medical marijuana cultivators, processors, and retail dispensaries from locating in the township.

The meeting is planned for 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 30.

Trustees met Friday morning in a public session for the purpose of gathering information about the issue.

“There have been some recent inquiries, to my understanding, to the zoning office around this,” said Trustee Rob Quigley.

“We are in a district of three counties that allows three dispensaries in the district,” he said. “I want to make sure the board is aware of what is going on and get them all the information they need for preparation for further discussion on Monday.”

Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program and the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy will be accepting applications for dispensaries online from Nov. 3-17, according to the program website.

One of the inquiries shared at the meeting was sent to Quigley from 4FrontVentures, Mission Partners and Happy Valley, based in Dublin, Ohio, asking for the township’s support of their application pursuing a medical marijuana dispensary along US 23.

“When we get these types of inquiries, it’s kind of open ended right now,” Zoning Director Michele Boni said. “We need to have a moratorium in place that states we don’t want dispensaries here, or if we do, I recommend from a zoning perspective to designate targeted areas and add a few more restrictions.”

Boni said if she were to receive an application, she would “probably deny it.”

“I want to make sure the community is involved and we have the trustees’ consensus on whether or not if we want to have these types of uses in our area,” she said. “We need to know whether or not we want this in the township.”

Michael McCarthy, the township’s attorney, said if the township doesn’t have a resolution in place prohibiting dispensaries, it could end up with one.

“The statute gives you the authority to prohibit it period,” said McCarthy. “This is just simply police power that’s separate from zoning that the township has to exercise if and how it wants.”

Ohio Revised Code 3796.29 governing local regulation states, “The legislative authority of a municipal corporation may adopt an ordinance, or a board of township trustees may adopt a resolution, to prohibit, or limit the number of cultivators, processors, or retail dispensaries licensed under this chapter within the municipal corporation or within the unincorporated territory of the township, respectively.”

Trustee Debbie Taranto said she had heard that the dispensaries “tend to be in a strip mall type atmosphere,” she said. “That bothered me a little bit.”

Genoa and Liberty townships approved resolutions earlier this year prohibiting cultivators, processors, and retail dispensaries of medical marijuana within the unincorporated territory of the townships.

By D. Anthony Botkin

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D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.