BARRYTON – The Barryton Village Council received a request from a local landowner to amend the village’s marijuana ordinance to allow cannabis grow facilities in the agricultural district, which was brought before the council for consideration this week.
Trustee Kathryn Kerr told the board that the landowner is interested in marketing their property to the cannabis industry.
“It has come to my attention that there is someone in the village limits that owns a large parcel of agricultural property that they are interested in marketing to cannabis companies,” Kerr said at Wednesday’s meeting. “If we consider doing this, seeing as how we just removed Ag-1 from grows, we should restrict it to nothing smaller than a seven acre parcel and back it off at least 300 feet from the road.”
Village president James Soriano told council if they change the zoning ordinance to allow cannabis growers in the agricultural district, they will have to open it up to everyone in the agricultural zone and suggested the proposal be brought before the public prior to making any decision.
“I would like to hear what the public has to say about opening it up to Ag-1, which puts it all around the village again,” Soriano said. “Originally the ordinance was for Ag-1 locations and we changed it because we didn’t want grow facilities all around the agricultural areas within the village. If we were to change it, we would suggest a minimum amount of acreage as well as a minimum setback from the road.”
Soriano said any rezoning request cannot be approved by council without conducting a public hearing and receiving input from the residents.
“I wanted (Kathryn) to bring this to the council’s attention to see how council feels about it,” he said. “If this is something they want to pursue, then I strongly suggest public hearings.”
Kerr said she would like to have the landowner directly approach the council with her request before any action is taken.
Council members agreed that further information needed to be brought to the council before a decision can be made and asked that the village reach out to the property owner to request she attend the next council meeting to address the rezoning request in person.
VIVID FARMS SURVEY
In other business, the council accepted a new survey of two acres of village owned property being leased by Vivid Farms, a cannabis company.
The survey was done to separate the Vivid Farms parcel from the M66 Group parcel, Soriano said. Both companies currently lease a portion of a 20 acre parcel of land owned by the village.
Soriano explained that the survey should have been done two years ago when the lease agreements with the two companies were drawn up, but it was not done.
“The problem is, even though they (M66) have 14 acres and (Vivid Farms) has two acres, it is all one parcel – the 20.27 acres,” he said. “Both leases are representing the same piece of property.”
Now that Vivid Farms has put a building in and is being taxed, it is taxed using the parcel number for the whole 20 acre parcel, he said.
“It is a mess, so to fix this we have to do the survey to establish the lines and then separate that parcel from the 20 acre parcel,” he said.
He added that if council is going to sell portions of the property to M66 Group, the portions that are to be sold would need to be surveyed and have their own parcel numbers, as well.
Lawyers for the village and M66 Group are currently negotiating a land purchase agreement.
Soriano suggested they wait until there is a purchase agreement in place with M66 Group to have additional surveys done.
“I would encourage council to hold off on survey of the 14 acres until we know what is going on and until we know what is going to be sold, and while (the surveyor) is out there have him do the other survey at the same time,” he said.
Council agreed that, if and when a purchase agreement was made with M66 Group for a portion of the 14 acre parcel, two surveys would be done – one of the portion being purchased, and another on the remaining property to be held by the village.
FORK TOWNSHIP WATER LEASE
In other business, the council agreed to send a letter to Fork Township supervisor Lori Helmer, requesting that they be released from the well agreement between the village and the township in the event the township sells the property to which the agreement applies.
“In reference to the well agreement between the village and the township, if they were to sell that building, we would like to be released from the agreement,” Soriano said. “The way the contract was written is that if they sell the building, we would still be forced to stay in contract and cover the sewer bill plus half of any maintenance and repair to the well.
“I just would like an answer about whether it is going to be sold,” he added.
“At this point selling the building has been put on hold indefinitely,” Kerr told the council. “They are thinking that they can still use it. There was some talk of moving the meetings back over there, as well.”
Council agreed they should notify the township board of their desire to be released from the lease if at some point in the future they decide to sell the property.
TREASURER ON PROBATION
During the meeting, the council approved a 90-day probationary period for village treasurer Mindy Campbell, at the end of which her performance will be re-evaluated and council will have the option to terminate her employment if certain goals are not met.
Village clerk Melissa Lazzaro told council that in the evaluation of Campbell, there was noted areas of deficiency that needed to be addressed.
“We did an evaluation and there are some areas that need improvement,” Lazzaro told the board. “My recommendation as chair of labor board and working with Mindy is to put her on a 60-day probation, and if the areas are improved, her employment would continue. If they do not improve, then her employment would be terminated.”
A motion to set the probationary period at 60 days was voted down.
Council members said they did not feel it was a fair amount of time for Campbell to improve her knowledge of the position because she only works four days a month.
“She has only been here 21 days … so instead of the 60 days, I’d like to see it extended to 90 or 120,” trustee Evelyn Jones said. “The reason I say that is because we are talking about a person who works four days a month and has never done this job before. Give her a little more insight and time, because if you look at it, working only four days a month, that only gives her eight days to learn it all.”
Lazzaro suggested the 90-day probationary period with reevaluation at the end of the 90 days, saying she and the trainer would work with Campbell to help her meet the set goals.
During the meeting the board also approved the following:
• A contract for mandatory water monitoring at the lagoons for 2022 at a cost of $7,500.
• A request from DPW director Tom Brown to purchase a light for the Farmers Market at a cost of $19.99.
• A request from DPW director Tom Brown to purchase a case of motor oil at a cost not to exceed $30.
• A request from DPW director Tom Brown to use petty cash to purchase spray paint to touch up equipment.