Jul
14

Last night’s council meeting

Here are my notes from last night’s meetings:

New water line – You might be surprised to learn that a couple streets in Stow do not have a city water line; they rely on well water. Progress Park is one of those streets, but that could be changing. The city is going out to bid on a water line, which would be assessed to those homeowners’ property taxes. That would be a positive development for that neighborhood because of the fire hydrant access, if for no other reason.

Senior snow plowing program – Stow has a nice program for plowing the driveways of senior citizens who are economically disadvantaged. The city spends about $12,500 per year, and (on a first-come, first-served basis) we plow the driveways of about 70 homes in the winter. Stow-Munroe Falls High School students then volunteer to clear the sidewalks and walkways for these folks. It’s a nice program, and we have made tweaks to it over the years so that it only covers those residents who can’t do it for themselves.

Adell Durbin plans – We heard two different plans for a new structure at Adell Durbin Park. One is a fancy lodge that would cost between $600K and $800K. The other is an attractive outdoor shelter (i.e., no walls), which would cost about $100K. In either case, this is going to be a building that is used mostly by private functions, and not the public. For that reason, we must be able to justify the investment by looking solely at the economics. The revenue must pay for construction over a reasonable amount of years. That’s just my opinion, of course. I think there is some council support for building a Taj Mahal; I’m not voting to spend your tax dollars like that. We are going to continue reviewing options over the next few meetings.

Medical marijuana – The state legislature has determined that medical marijuana is legal; the cities can’t override that, but we can determine if and where marijuana is grown or sold. Last night, the mayor and law director proposed a ban on cultivation and retail sales of medical marijuana within Stow. Council did not take a vote on this proposal, but rather gave it a first reading.

Amber and Sara explained their rationale for the ban. Their reasons stem from the conflict between state and federal law on the legality of medical marijuana, which prohibits cannabis businesses from using the federal banking system and requires them to deal only in cash. This has two effects, according to the administration: (1) All-cash businesses attract a criminal element (our police chief agreed). (2) There is concern about income-tax evasion where cash is used exclusively. A lot of our similarly situated suburbs are coming to that same conclusion.

My take is this: God didn’t create cannabis for no reason. A lot of sick people have seen their pain and symptoms eliminated by using it. I’m not entirely in agreement with the administration’s rationale about the dangers of an all-cash business, particularly when it comes to cultivation. I see cultivation no differently than any other pharmaceutical company, which we would drool over coming to Stow.

With that said, we shouldn’t rush it. We should take our time and pass legislation only if it protects neighborhoods and ensures a secure, crime-free cultivation facility. For retail sales, meanwhile, I think the correct play is to be patient and see how it works in other communities before we enter the market.

Next meeting – Council will meet next on July 27.

Jun
9

Last night’s council meeting

Here are my notes from the June 8 council meeting:

New Senior Living Project – A group called Omni proposes to invest $25-29 million to build a 144-bed senior-living facility between Hudson and Allen roads. I believe it’s the largest investment into the city since I’ve been on council. It’s projected to begin construction next spring. The completed project will bring $2 million of annual income. The complex will pay about $500K in annual property taxes. The project could be expanded even more to include some property to the south and north. Here is a bird’s-eye view of the plot.

Omni

Potential Improvements to High School Traffic Congestion – Council approved up to $400K in funds to improve the Graham/Fishcreek/Newcomer corridor, which sees a lot of congestion because of high school traffic. We will only spend the money if we get an 80-20 match from the State of Ohio. In other words, we expect the total expenditure to be $2 million.

Regional Dispatch Update – The mayor announced that she has signed a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) with Cuyahoga Falls, Tallmadge and Summit County to enter into a regional council of governments (“COG”). The MOU does not bind the City of Stow to anything, much less enter into a COG. Only city council can do that. The first step will be for the parties to the MOU to hire a consultant to provide guidance on technology, venues, and finances. That, too, will likely have to come before city council (unless Stow’s share of the consulting fee is less than $15,000).

Special Committee to Repeal Stupid Laws – As I announced this week on Facebook and in the Akron Beacon Journal, I have formed a committee of councilmembers to study all ordinances in the City and identify ones that are outdated, unenforceable, over-intrusive, and/or unnecessary — in other words, “stupid laws.” We kicked off the effort by repealing Chapter 713, which forced charities to jump through numerous hoops just to host a fundraiser within city limits. It prohibited anyone under 18 to attend. Most offensive to me: It required charities to disclose all of their volunteers to the government. I hope to repeal a lot of stupid laws in the coming weeks and months. I appointed councilmembers Costello, Riehl and D’Antonio to work on the committee.

Next Meeting – I made a motion to cancel the June 22 meeting, because we had little pressing business, and there’s no reason to pay employees to be there. Our next meeting is now July 13.

Meeting Notes

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