PA: Middletown Supervisors Debate Medical Marijuana Ordinance

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The Middletown supervisors might have come up with a plan to address medical marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries.

But not before some differences of opinion became obvious.

And if they stick with the direction they approved this week, all applicants would have to seek approval from the same divided board.

Solicitor Joseph Pizzo told the supervisors they would be wise to adopt an ordinance in the wake of the commonwealth enacting a medical marijuana law earlier this year. He suggested growers and processors be limited to industrial zones while dispensaries could be restricted to commercial districts. The latter is essentially located along Business Route 1 in the township.

Supervisor Tom Gallagher said he doesnt like the idea of dispensaries in commercial districts and would prefer to err on the side of caution and also restrict them to industrial zones. He said other municipalities are doing that and he doesnt want Middletown to be the place where potential dispensers set their sights.

That didnt sit well with Supervisors Tom Tosti, Amy Strouse or William Oettinger.

It sounds like youre just trying to stop it (altogether), said Tosti. When youre talking about growing (operations), youre talking about creating jobs.

Strouse pointed out that the state law already calls for specific distances from such things as schools and day care centers. She, too, said Gallaghers position would make it very difficult for any operations to locate in Middletown.

I feel wed be a little dishonest, she said. We need to make sure were not overly restrictive. Were talking about kids with leukemia and others who need this.

As the debate heated up, Pizzo pointed out that a potential problem are the businesses that could spring up near dispensaries such as head shops and beer sellers. Gallagher agreed, but Strouse wasnt having it.

This is scaremongering about a medical treatment, she said. We shouldnt try to predict the future tonight and thereby prevent someone from getting the treatment they need.

Supervisors Chairman George Leonhauser said he could see some places in the commercial district where a dispensary would be OK and others where such a use would not be a good idea.

Pizzo then suggested that the board could make all applications require either conditional use approvals by the supervisors or special exception approvals from the local zoning board.

In the end, the board decided to have Pizzo draw up a draft ordinance that would allow growers and processors in industrial districts and dispensaries in commercial zones but make all applications require conditional use approvals from the supervisors. The vote was 4-1, with Tosti dissenting.

Township Manager Stephanie Teoli-Kuhls said she expects the board to vote on the ordinance by the end of the year. She and Gallagher made a point of saying the supervisors could make alterations to the draft ordinance.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Middletown Supervisors Debate Medical Marijuana Ordinance
Author: Vic Monaco
Contact: 215-949-4000
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Website: Courier Times