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Youngstown delays marijuana, dollar stores moratoriums for two weeks

YOUNGSTOWN — Some miscommunication will delay votes until June 19 on recreational marijuana businesses, dollar stores, car lots and auto repair shops moratoriums.

Council had planned to vote Wednesday on the four moratorium legislative items. However, the law department didn’t include the ordinances in city council’s meeting packets.

The issue is the May 21 council zoning committee meeting was delayed and then canceled when not enough members showed up to make a quorum.

As the meeting was waiting to be convened, Jason Small, senior assistant law director, provided proposed language for the moratoriums and council members informally said they wanted the ordinances on the next council meeting for a vote.

“It was just an oversight because we didn’t have a quorum so it wasn’t referred to the law department by committee,” said Councilwoman Samantha Turner, D-3rd Ward and chairwoman of the zoning committee that has worked on the moratorium proposals with administration officials since late March.

“It was by accident,” Turner said. Law Director Lori Shells Simmons “didn’t realize they were supposed to be on the agenda” for Wednesday’s meeting.

Shells Simmons said it wasn’t an accident.

“When I talked to Jason Small, he said they didn’t have a quorum and it was never addressed,” she said. “They didn’t have something come from the committee. Jason has samples (of proposed legislation). We have to get something from council” before it goes on the agenda.

Council’s zoning committee will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday to further review the proposals and make modifications, Turner said.

One likely modification is extending the proposed moratorium on recreational marijuana to two years, Turner said. The original proposal for those businesses was for one year.

The language in a statewide issue approved by voters in November to legalize adult recreational marijuana includes a provision allowing communities to prohibit the location of businesses that sell it. If that were to happen, the owner or operator of a dispensary can attempt to place the matter on a ballot for voters in that community to decide through a petition initiative.

Currently, Leaf Relief at 4323 Market St. is Youngstown’s only medical marijuana dispensary and would be able to apply to sell recreational marijuana. It would not be subject to the moratorium.

The council zoning committee has met a number of times to discuss moratoriums on dollar stores — the proposed language refers to them as “small box discount stores” — as well as car lots and auto repair shops.

In Youngstown, there are 23 dollar stores — Dollar General, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree.

While votes on the moratoriums will have to wait a couple of weeks, council will consider other legislation at Wednesday’s meeting.

Council is set to vote Wednesday on a resolution urging the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to not grant a requested 30% rate increase by Enbridge Gas Ohio.

If the rate increase is approved, it would cost the average residential gas consumer more than $100 per year. Also, Enbridge — which purchased Dominion Energy Ohio on March 7 — is asking to charge customers additional monthly fees of $8.78 per month in 2025 and as much as $29.69 per month by 2032.

Several government entities in Trumbull County have approved similar resolutions, including Warren, Niles, Cortland, Bazetta, Brookfield, Liberty and Weathersfield.

Youngstown would be the first in Mahoning County.

Council also will consider an ordinance Wednesday to authorize the board of control to hire a contractor for improvement work to Industrial Road.

The project is estimated to cost $1.5 million with $605,283 coming from the city’s American Rescue Plan funds and the rest from its auto license fees.

Council also will reconsider on Wednesday a proposal to spend $48,608 in ARP funding to install a kayak launch at McKelvey Lake on the East Side. Council moved the proposal May 1 to its parks and recreation committee for further discussion and it’s back on council’s agenda.

Also Wednesday, council will decide on legislation to declare about a quarter-acre of vacant property at 1000 Oak St., owned by Youngstown, as surplus and sell it for $46,320 to Joseph Asset Management LLC, a sister company of Emergency Medical Transport, which provides ambulance service in the city.

EMT plans to open a second facility at the East Side location. It currently operates out of 1122 E. Midlothian Blvd. on the city’s southeast side.

The city in December 2022 signed a three-year contract to pay $3.968 million to EMT for ambulance service using ARP money with a two-year renewal option.

Have an interesting story? Contact David Skolnick by email at dskolnick@vindy.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @dskolnick.

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