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Group makes pitch to neighbors of proposed medical marijuana site

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    Glass City Alternatives member Andy Berman, left, and facilitator Bob Jacobs, right, speaks with Block Watch's Mike Roby during a neighborhood meeting Monday at the Signal Nightclub in Toledo on a medical marijuana dispensary in a vacant building on Sylvania Avenue in Toledo.

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    Citizens listen to a presentation by Glass City Alternatives during a neighborhood meeting Monday at the Signal Nightclub in Toledo on a medical marijuana dispensary in a vacant building on Sylvania Avenue in Toledo.

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    Glass City Alternatives member Mark Jacobs, center, listens to other speakers during a neighborhood meeting at the Signal Nightclub Monday in Toledo on a medical marijuana dispensary in a vacant building on Sylvania Avenue in Toledo.

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    A proposed medical marijuana dispensary location in Toledo.

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    Glass City Alternatives is asking for special use permit to use this building at 3209 W. Sylvania Ave. in Toledo to sell medical marijuana.

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A local investment group presented its plan for converting a vacant building on Sylvania Avenue into a medical marijuana dispensary Monday night at a neighborhood meeting.

Glass City Alternatives LLC explained the procedures in place for operating medical marijuana facilities in Ohio and how they plan to open a medical marijuana retail outlet in a former veterinary clinic at 3209 Sylvania, if their application wins state approval.

Representatives of the group — which organized the meeting — took questions from a crowd of more than 25 at Signal Night Club on Secor Road.

Tom Helberg, a real estate developer and principle of the company, assured residents the facility would be highly secured and access would be restricted to people qualified to be prescribed medical marijuana.

He said the proposed dispensary would be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., staffed with security, and equipped with surveillance cameras and outside lighting.

“Signage will be discreet. It is not going to look like a Las Vegas neon,” he said. “This is a medical service in a commercial environment. It is going to be conducted in a respectful way to the other businesses and the neighbors who live there.”

Glass City Alternatives is asking the city of Toledo for a special use permit to open the facility in the 4,200-square-foot building. The Toledo Plan Commission has scheduled to review the application and site plans at its Dec. 7 meeting.

Neighbors at the meeting told representatives of the group about their concerns regarding having medical-marijuana facility near their homes, including the impact on home values, increased traffic on Sylvania and other streets, and the potential for crimes to increase.

“You can't put this in a residential neighborhood,” Tina Scott said. “Put it in more of a business area.”

Ron Scanlon of West Toledo said he is not opposed to medical marijuana but he doesn't believe the facility is appropriate for the residential-heavy area and fears it will increase criminal activity.

“Toledo is a big city. There is a lot of vacant property. I am sure you can find another place to put it other than in an area that is residential,” he said.

The application of Glass City Alternatives complies with zoning regulations approved by Toledo City Council in August for medical marijuana facilities, including that the property is zoned regional commercial and not located within 500 feet of a church, child daycare, school, park, playground, or library.

After the public hearing before the Plan Commission, the request for the special use permit will advance to City Council’s planning and zoning committee and then to the full council for a vote.

House Bill 523, which went into effect Sept. 8, 2016, legalized medical marijuana in Ohio. While the legislation set a framework for the program, it left the ongoing work of establishing rules and guidelines for the cultivation, processing, testing, dispensing and medical use of marijuana to different state agencies, according to the state Medical Marijuana Control Program’s website.

The Ohio Department of Commerce on Friday announced license approvals for 11 Level II cultivators, which can have grow operations of 3,000 square feet or less. OhioGrow LLC, which has proposed a cultivation site at 367 E. State Line Rd., was the only cultivator in northwest Ohio approved by the department.

Contact Mark Reiter at or 419-724-6199.

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