Commission discusses pot zoning prohibition

Approves property purchases

By Sam Wildow -

PIQUA — The Piqua City Commission on Tuesday continued their discussion about 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.

City Planner Chris Schmiesing gave a brief history of the legalization of medical marijuana, also noting that there are currently draft rules available for how the state plans to regulate this new medical marijuana industry. The state hopes to have those rules adopted by next month and have medical marijuana operational by September 2018. The state is also only allowing approximately 60 dispensaries to obtain a license to sell medical marijuana within the entire state.

The state also provided municipalities with the option of banning medical marijuana cultivators, processors, and/or retail dispensaries within the city code.

“That’s not often an option we have,” Schmiesing said.

This zoning prohibition came to the commission as a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Board. Chairman Jim Oda, who was present during the commission’s meeting, explained the board’s decision to recommend a zoning prohibition.

Oda began by explaining that the state would be in control of deciding where medical marijuana facilities would be located.

“That city has no control over that,” Oda said. “We can’t pick and choose.”

Oda said that this was the city’s opportunity to ban medical marijuana facilities in the zoning code now, allowing the city to wait and see how it plays out in other municipalities across the state before allowing those facilities within Piqua. After that time, the city can amend the zoning code again to allow medical marijuana facilities if the commission so chooses.

“We can change our mind,” Oda said. “Here’s our opportunity to say no.”

Dr. Jim Burkhardt also attended the meeting, stating that there is not enough good research on medical marijuana. Burkhardt advised that it would be best used for chronic nerve pain or glaucoma.

A resident also came forward and spoke against the possible zoning prohibition, saying that it would be a mistake for Piqua not to try and obtain one of the 60 possible dispensary licenses.

“It seems really like Piqua needs to step out of the box and into the future,” Deena Schnieder of Piqua said. “We could have all kinds of tax dollars come in for us.”

This ordinance will undergo a third reading at the commission’s next meeting on May 16.

The commission then approved the purchase of 5.459 acres on Staunton Road as a component of a larger potential solar-generating site for the American Municipal Power (AMP) Solar Phase II project in the which the city is participating. It is currently vacant land. The cost will be $109,590.

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 other approved purchase will be for two parcels located along North Wayne Street, one that is 0.19 acre and another that is 0.14 acre. These are currently vacant lots adjacent to the bike path downtown.

“The property owner reached out to us to see if there was interest,” Schmiesing said.

The city plans to redevelop those spots as public parking facilities to support downtown businesses and community members as part of the Downtown Riverfront Development Strategy. The cost will be $40,000.

The commission also voted on agreement for engineering design services for the Great Miami River Pedestrian Bridge Project, which would replace the existing utility bridge behind the old Piqua Power Plant with an ADA-compliant bridge for pedestrians. This was voted on after press time and will be in the Thursday edition of the Daily Call.

The commission also honored two retiring city employees during their meeting, Water Plant Mechanic Robert John Hanselman and Firefighter/Paramedic James William Stein. This also will be covered in greater detail in the Thursday edition.

Approves property purchases

By Sam Wildow

Reach Sam Wildow at or (937) 451-3336

Reach Sam Wildow at or (937) 451-3336