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Eastlake considers medical marijuana plant at vacant community center

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EASTLAKE, Ohio - With medical marijuana cultivation and distribution inevitable in the state of Ohio, city council in Eastlake is considering a proposal that would allow a 50,000-square-foot plant in the city.

The proposal is to build the plant on the now-vacant site of the former JFK Community Center.

"It's a revenue source for the city. We have tried over the last 10 years and had 10 or 11 levies fail in a row. You know, we are looking to have another levy in May to help us out, but again our residents, and it's fine that they don't want any new taxes, so we are looking outside the box," said Eastlake Mayor Dennis Morley.

Morley told FOX 8 News the city has been communicating with a developer for about three months, addressing issues that include security, environmental issues and aesthetics.

The site is bordered by two residential streets, where long-time residents would literally have the marijuana plant in their backyard.

"The group that did the presentation to council on Tuesday will show how they are going to do a buffer zone, basically you won't know they are there," Morely said.

Residents on nearby East 337th Street, however, are concerned.

"I would not like that, not being so close to my house. We've got kids on this street. Granted it would be medical marijuana, I don't want it," Julia Winchell said.

"No, I don't want it. I have five little grandkids. I don't want it around here. We have enough problems," Charlene Murphy said.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a law last June that allows for the growth, processing and distribution of medical marijuana in the state.

Twelve sites will be able to have cultivating plants. Eastlake's mayor said he believes having a productive use for the 10 acres of property would be better than seeing it sit vacant and deteriorating.

"Eastlake needs to have revenue and that's what I am looking at," Morley said. "If people are going to use medical marijuana or not, that's not for me to say. You know, what the medical marijuana, from what I have been reading, is helping the people, he people who have cancer, the people who have some of the other issues."

The plant would also create at least 30 jobs initially.

Morley said there are a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up before anything will happen at the site.

"Everything is tentative. If we do sell this land, it will be tentative on them getting a licence. They have to apply for a license. Total price for a license is about $200,000 so they are still looking at the laws and how to enforce them. This is the early stage," Morley said.

"This will be somewhere in the state, if its not in Easlake. I'm not saying it could be in any of the surrounding cities, but it could be," Morley said.

The city is inviting anyone with questions or concerns to attend the next finance and council meeting at at 7 p.m, on Jan. 10.

JFK Community Center