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(News archive photo by Megan Bachman)

Village Council— Cresco may emit light later

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The greenhouses at Cresco Labs may brighten the dark sky for a few hours in the winter months.

At its final meeting of the year, Village Council agreed to allow local medical marijuana producer Cresco to emit light from its greenhouses past the previously agreed upon time of sunset — at least for the next few weeks.

Cresco will be allowed to use the artificial lights in their greenhouse without a blackout curtain until 7 p.m., about two hours after sunset.

The approval is provisional until a longer discussion can take place at Council’s Jan. 6 regular meeting, however.

Council President Housh suggested the temporary approval, saying that while the Village wants to collaborate with Cresco, he also wants public feedback.

“I always like these kinds of things to be on the agenda so if somebody does want to weigh in they have an opportunity to,” Housh said. The item had been added to the New Business section of the agenda at the meeting’s start.

Cresco had asked the Village for the extension because too much moisture is building up in the greenhouses after sunset and before artificial lights are turned off, explained Maxwell Salinger who identified himself at the meeting as Cresco’s director of cultivation and a village resident.

“Because we are closing [the blackout curtains] at 5 p.m., the plants are still transpiring and putting moisture in the area,” Salinger said.

“It is raining on these plants,” he added.

According to Salinger, the cannabis plant is particularly susceptible to bacterial and microbial pathogens that can proliferate in high moisture environments, which could hinder state approval of harvests. Moisture is especially problematic when the plants are flowering, he added.

Previously, Cresco agreed to the time constraint because “we made an agreement we would not pollute light past sunset,” Salinger said. The company is requesting the extension be in place from October through February annually.

In his report to Council, Village Manager Josué Salmerón recommended the request be granted because, “not granting it could have a detrimental impact on the business.”

In response to a question from Housh about informing the community of the new plan, Ari Greenwald, Cresco’s facility director, said that Cresco is somewhat hampered from communicating directly to the public due to strict state regulations.

“A lot of the times our hands are tied with communication and education with the public — the state sees that as advertising,” Greenwald explained. He added that it can take one to two months for a public statement to be approved by the state. Village leaders said they would help spread the word.

In other Council business—

Charter changes on March ballot

Council approved an ordinance to put on the March 2020 ballot changes to the Village Charter in three separate measures. One measure lengthens the term of the mayor from two to four years. Two others deal with that expansion of voting rights. In November 2019, the three changes, which were inadvertently combined into a single ballot measure, were rejected by voters 53–47%.

In one measure, the text reads, “Residents who are 16 years of age and older are eligible to vote for Yellow Springs local elected officials and issues pursuant to the home rule power and granted by this Charter.”

In a separate measure, the text reads, “Residents of the Village of Yellow Springs who are non-US citizens shall be electors and are eligible to vote for Yellow Springs local elected officials and issues pursuant to the home rule power and granted by this Charter.”

The final amendment replaces “two-year term” with “four-year term” in a section on the mayor.

Council President Brian Housh summarized the three, now separate, issues.

“With both of these amendments, as with the third one, you have the opportunity to vote yes or no,” he said. “If they both pass, then they extend voting to both groups. But it may be possible that only one of them, or neither of them, pass.”

Council Member Lisa Kreeger, who initially suggested the mayoral term change, said she was compelled to do so “in light of the complexities of the Mayor’s Court.” Housh added that a four-year term is more appropriate because, for the mayor, “it takes a lot of time to get up to speed.”

From the floor, Laura Curliss questioned the change to the mayor’s term, saying she believes that mayors with two-year terms are “more responsive to the people,” who can vote them out. She also sees the move as unnecessary.

“I never really understood this effort,” she said. “I feel like two years is long enough to learn what they need to learn for the limited number of ordinances they see.”

Also from the floor, Mitzi Miller asked what would happen if a mayor could not fulfill his or her term. In response, Kintner explained that according to the Charter, a Council member can “step in” as the mayor until the next election.

Stoney Creek lease renewed

Council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the Village manager to enter into a lease with Stoney Creek Garden Center for the Village-owned property at 4550 U.S. 68 North.

The three-year lease increases 5% each year, according to a new provision of the lease renewal.

The garden center will start out paying $787.50 per month for the 8.24-acre property just north of the village, according to Salmerón. In response to a question from Council, Salmerón commented that the Village pays about $1,068.10 in total property tax per year on the property.

Housh said that in drafting the new agreement, the Village is trying to “balance covering our costs with encouraging commerce.”

“Stoney Creek is a great business,” Housh added. “They’ve done a lot to clean that area up.”

Wages increased

Council unanimously passed a resolution raising employee wages by 2.25%. Salmerón reported that surrounding Greene County public employers are providing annual increases of between 2 and 4%, with the majority in the range of 2.25–2.5%.

“Traditionally, we have had a cost of living adjustment annually,” Housh explained of the measure. “It’s something all communities do.”

Salmerón added that the consumer price index for the region rose 1.9% over the last year, and that “the Village’s current economic condition is financially healthy and allows for this annual adjustment.”

The Village manager, Clerk of Council, Village treasurer and Village solicitor are not eligible for the increase, as their salaries are adjusted separately.

Other items

• Council met in executive session for the purpose of the evaluation of a public employee. The Village manager is currently undergoing a review of his first six months on the job. The clerk of Council is also being reviewed.

Amy Wamsley was sworn in as a member of the Arts and Culture Commission.

• Council passed the last supplemental appropriation of 2019. The final expenditures came in at $15,037,557.

• Treasurer Judy Kintner reported a downward trend in investment interest, from a rate of 2.55% in April to 1.9% in November. Salmerón said that there are “U.S. recession risk indicators” contributing to the drop. The Village’s annual investment earnings through November 2019 were $157,127, Kintner reported, up from $95,670 in 2018 and $34,409 in 2017.

• Council member Lisa Kreeger shared that the work of an ad hoc citizen committee that reviewed a police disciplinary matter is now complete. More details will be in a future issue of the News.

• “A Welcoming Community” is now the tagline of the Village, Salmerón reported. The phrase was used in a new sign erected at the Bryan Center.

• Environmental Commission is recommending that the Village commission a new source water capture zone study, according to Council Vice President and EC liaison MacQueen. The last study was completed 20 years ago as part of the Wellhead Protection Plan, which she said was never officially approved by Council.

• Council members thanked fellow member Kineta Sanford for serving on the body. Sanford served for a year after she was appointed to complete Judith Hempfling’s term. Laura Curliss’ first meeting as a Council member will be next week.

Council’s next meeting is Monday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. in Council chambers.

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