By Lyra Bordelon
Five ordinances were addressed by Lewisburg City Council during their August meeting, taking medical cannabis, the city charter, Mon Power, and a number of city code provisions into consideration. Of these, only Ordinance 287 on medical cannabis was formally passed after a second reading and public hearing – each of the others have only passed a first reading and must still go through a second reading and public hearing before they could be enacted by council.
Ordinance 287 addresses medical cannabis, adding land use categories for the city and adding the definitions. The ordinances sees the definitions of medical cannabis, medical cannabis dispensary, medical cannabis growing facility, and medical cannabis process facility, as defined in the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, to the city code.
Using these definitions, the ordinances adds condition permitting for dispensary in Community Center (CC) and neighborhood commercial (C1) zoned sections of the city, conditional permitting for growing facilities and processing facilities in general community (C2) zones, and permissible zoning for all three in limited industrial (I1) and industrial commercial (IC) zoned areas of the city.
After the first reading of the ordinance passed in March of this year, public hearings were postponed during council while a new way of holding the City Council meetings was found. After having conducted a number of meetings remotely, council elected to move forward on the ordinance.
Additional revisions to the Lewisburg City Charter could be coming through Ordinance 285, which passed a first reading during the August council meeting.
The charter changes include a mandate for proposed ordinances to be reviewed by the city attorney before being introduced for council’s consideration, the removal of the requirement for the city manager to “maintain primary residence” in the city, and making the mayor the immediate supervisor of the city manager.
Monongahela Power would be authorized once again to “construct, operate, and maintain” an electric system in Lewisburg though Ordinance 289. The company, part of First Energy, currently serves the area.
“There is hereby grant by this municipality to the company the exclusive right and privilege to construct, erect, alter, operate, maintain, reconstruct, relocate, and remove, in, upon, along, across, over, through, and under the streets, alleys, sidewalks, public ways, and municipal property, and extensions thereof, now or hereafter laid out, used or dedicated in the municipality … an electric system … required to conduct electricity and to provide communications associated with such electricity,” reads the ordinance.
After passage, the agreement would last for a 10 year term, with the franchise “automatically renew for five additional ten year terms, unless either party provides written notice of its desire to terminate the franchise no later than ninety days prior to the expiration of the then current term.”
Although initially passing a first reading in March, Ordinance 286 was tabled by council for further review by the city attorney.
Changes to City Code would include:
• the elimination of voting precincts for Lewisburg, placing the entire city in one precinct electing council members and the mayor elected at-large,
• reducing the number of election commissioners from three to two,
• the removal of a requirement for the chief of police to investigate those seeking a solicitor’s permit,
• adding a requirement that any fixed-location business seeking a license must have a building inspection and be within code before the license is issued,
• removing a requirement that a representative from the Greenbrier County Planning Commission being an advisory member of the Lewisburg City Planning Commission.
• Anyone who “erects, constructs, alters, or repairs” a building or structure in violation of the “approved construction documents or the directive of the building official” could be found guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $300. In addition, each day after due notice has been served “shall be deemed a separate offense.”
• Currently, “it shall be unlawful for any person to behave in a boisterous or disorderly manner at any meeting of the City Council or any committee thereof” including “contemptuous or insolent behavior towards the presiding officer or any member of the City Council or committee of the council, or its clerk, sergeant at arms, any other officer.” The ordinance would add employees of the city and members of the public in attendance to this list.
Finally, Ordinance 288 is a regular update to the city’s building code following the state’s passage of updated building codes, bringing the two into alignment. The first reading was passed during the August meeting and is expected to be further considered in the near future.