Kent City Council approves medical marijuana zoning, talks record retention

David Williams

Kent City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the inclusion of medical marijuana into the Kent zoning code, pursuant to all current state laws.

Since the state legalized medical marijuana in 2016, the motion by the council is aimed at making Kent’s laws reflect those of Ohio. The meeting was held in the basement of the fire department on 302 S. Depeyster St.

“Medical marijuana, as a part of the state law, needs to be in our zoning codes,” said Bridget Susel, the community development director for the city of Kent.

Kent resident Melissa Long raised some concerns about where potential businesses might be located.

“I’m curious, as I’m sure others here are, as to where these businesses might be in the city,” Long said.

Susel explained since the law was adopted by the state, the council had four meetings with the planning committee during which they discussed the four areas that needed to be regulated: cultivation, processing, distribution and refining.

Cultivation and processing would both be zoned for industrial areas of Kent, while dispensaries and testing facilities could go in any commercial areas, as long as they are at least 500 feet from any schools, churches or addiction-service facilities.

No companies dealing with medical marijuana are scheduled to come in Kent yet.

Another topic of discussion was Kent’s record retention laws, outlining how long city officials are required to keep records before deleting or discarding them. These records can include everything from handwritten notes to audio recordings of City Council meetings.

Gwen Rosenberg, council-at-large, raised concerns about the audio files, which are deleted after minutes and transcripts of that meeting are adopted, not being accessible to Kent’s visually-impaired residents.

Rosenberg discussed the issue with Law Director Hope Jones and Clerk of Council Tara Grimm.

Councillors deliberated, talking about different ways to take minutes so they are more descriptive of what happened during meetings, different methods of storing audio files and the logistical issue of constantly needing to update files and storage methods.

The council then voted to discuss more efficient and affordable file storage options with an IT professional.

David Williams is the safety reporter. Contact him at [email protected]