Purchase for solar field approved

Commission discusses prohibition for medical marijuana facilities

By Sam Wildow - swildow@aimmedianetwork.com

PIQUA — The Piqua City Commission on Tuesday approved purchasing property from the Piqua City School District to be used as a possible future site for a solar field.

“This is the property of the former Staunton School street site,” City Attorney Stacy Wall said.

The Piqua Board of Education also already approved the purchase.

The cost will be $71,715 for the parcel of land at 430 Staunton St., which is approximately 3.64 acres. The proposed site would also include a property behind this location, making the total site between 10-12 acres. This location is a component of a larger potential solar-generating site as part of the American Municipal Power (AMP) Solar Phase II project in the which the city is participating.

The Piqua Power System is currently purchasing solar power through the AMP solar power project, which is one of the cheapest power resources for the city. As part of phase two of AMP’s solar power project, the Piqua Power System can purchase solar power as well as find a site within the city for the potential development of a solar field. The city first has to either own the property or have an ownership agreement over the property. Then, a company called NextEra would develop the site for AMP, which would then purchase power generated from the solar field.

The city would not be funding or developing the solar field site, as NextEra would invest in that portion of the project before selling the energy generated from that solar field back to AMP members like the city of Piqua. NextEra will then see a return on that investment over the 25-year span of AMP’s solar power project.

The proposed solar field would generate up to 1,500 kilowatts at its peak generation, according to the Piqua Power System.

The commission also heard the first reading of an ordinance that would amend the zoning code within the city of Piqua to prohibit medical marijuana cultivators, processors, and/or retail dispensaries within the city. This came to the commission as a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Board.

The commission has previously approved two 180-day moratoriums on medical marijuana facilities locating within the city.

Economic Development Director Justin Sommer said the Planning and Zoning Board recommended this zoning amendment “in relation to maintaining local control over implementation” of the medical marijuana law. Sommer said that the state is planning on releasing guidelines for the medical marijuana law in September.

“How can we make a rule on something we don’t know?” Commissioner Joe Wilson asked.

Sommer said that this was a proactive step to maintain local control, adding, “We’re at their mercy” in terms of the state’s rules. Sommer said it was the Planning and Zoning Board’s recommendation to restrict medical marijuana facilities from locating in Piqua, then to evaluate the needs of the city. Sommer also noted that the board had two public meetings, including an advertised public hearing, at which no residents appeared to speak in favor or against medical marijuana facilities. Sommer also noted that the zoning code could be amended again later.

City Manager Gary Huff added later that concerns expressed by other local municipalities are that the state will change the rules again and that municipalities will be “stuck and not have an option” on limiting or restricting medical marijuana facilities.

“There’s the concern that the state will change the game,” Huff said.

Wilson said that he had heard some concern from someone about the city restricting medical marijuana facilities in Piqua.

“I have had a cancer victim talk to me about how it helps him deal with his symptoms,” Wilson said, adding that this person was sick and looking to get some relief.

Wall noted that this zoning amendment would only restrict medical marijuana facilities from locating within the city, not use of medical marijuana within the city.

Commissioners Judy Terry and Wilson each expressed an interest in hearing from the public on this before their third reading on this ordinance.

Later in the meeting, Commissioner Bill Vogt shared some harsh words for some residents not taking care of where their grass remnants end up after they mow the grass. “People are still insisting on blowing their grass into the street,” he said.

Vogt said that some people ask why the city does not get more business in Piqua, suggesting that people need to take care of their properties.

“We’re all stupid,” Vogt said. “This is their town. It’s a nice town.”

Vogt added that if businesses do not want to locate in Piqua, some residents “can look in the mirror and find out why.”

Commissioner John Martin also expressed similar concerns about people blowing grass into the street, as grass blown into the street can clog the stormwater system and create issues. Terry added that “the public needs to be responsible.”

“This has a direct effect on our stormwater utilities,” Vogt said.

“It’s part of civic pride,” Mayor Kazy Hinds said.

Huff added that these types of “good Samaritan laws” are difficult to enforce.

Earlier, the commission considered a number of agreements. First, they approved retaining the services of the auditor of state for the city’s annual audit. The cost is not to exceed $39,975. This is $1,400 less than last year.

The commission then authorized the city manager to sign the Community Housing Impact and Preservation (CHIP) program partnership agreement by and between the Miami County Board of Commissioners, the city of Piqua, the city of Tipp City, and the city of Troy for the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) CHIP program. This will allow them to apply for more CHIP funding from the state, as together they will be eligible for $1,120,000 of available CHIP funding. The city of Piqua’s expected allocation would be at least $576,000 should the application be approved.

Next, the commission authorized an agreement with O.R. Colan Associates, LLC for the right-of-way acquisition services for the roundabout project that will take place at Garbry and Looney roads. The cost is not to exceed $31,000.

The commission awarded a contract to Grissom Construction, LLC for the Sidewalk ADA Compliance program. The cost is not to exceed $200,000, which includes a 10 percent contingency.

The commission tabled a purchase order to Walt Sweeney Ford, Inc. for the purchase of a pickup truck for the Underground Utilities Department. The cost was $25,551, which was approximately $500 over budget. It was also the lowest bid. The commission tabled this purchase to consider the other higher bids to see if those vehicles would better meet the city’s needs.

Commissioners approved a purchase to Sherry Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep & Ram for the purchase of a truck for the Wastewater Department. The expected cost is $33,878, which came in approximately $600 under the state bid price.

Commission discusses prohibition for medical marijuana facilities

By Sam Wildow


Reach Sam Wildow at swildow@aimmedianetwork.com or (937) 451-3336

Reach Sam Wildow at swildow@aimmedianetwork.com or (937) 451-3336