Hilliard City Council will have final say on medical marijuana dispensary application

Hilliard City Council is on track to consider an application for a medical marijuana dispensary in Mill Run.

The Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission on Oct. 14 voted 5-0 to recommend approval of a modification to the planned-unit development zoning at 3799 Park Mill Run Drive so it may be used as a medical marijuana dispensary site.

The PUD allows for commercial and retail uses, as well as a hotel, but a modification would be required for its use as a dispensary, according to the application.

No date has been set for City Council, which will have final say on the matter, to consider the recommendation and the application itself, but it is possible it will be considered as soon as a November meeting, said David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.

Ball said the application to open a medical marijuana dispensary is Hilliard’s first such request.

No residents commented on the application at the Oct. 14 meeting.

Chris Lewie, chair of the planning and zoning commission, said Oct. 25 that he considers the proposal “something akin to a retail pharmacy” for which there is a precedent in the area.

“The actual plans for the site appear to be well thought out; a final development plan will be presented to us in the near future,” Lewie said.

The applicant is Jackson Real Estate & Development LLC, a Dublin-based business owned by Randall Jackson, who previously attempted to open a gun range and store on the site.

When reached by phone Oct. 26, Jackson said he had no comment concerning the latest proposal.

The owner of the 1.9-acre Mill Run site, according to the Franklin County Auditor’s Office, is 3799 Mill Run Partners LLC of Dublin.

The site is best known as a former Damon’s Grill and Sports Bar, but it operated for a short while as Jed’s Fireballs & Brew after the closure of Damon’s.

The Jed’s restaurant closed in 2014, according to Mike DeVito Jr., a manager at the Jed’s Fireballs & Brew location in Perrysburg in suburban Toledo, and the property has been unused since.

The building on the site was demolished early this year.

The parcel was involved in a past attempt for a PUD modification and a subsequent lawsuit after the modification was denied in relation to a proposal for a Shoot Point Blank gun range and shop.

City Council in May 2016 voted 4-3 in support of the PUD modification for 3799 Mill Run Partners, but the measure was said to have failed because, according to Tracy Bradford, the law director at the time, a 5-2 supermajority was required to overturn a negative recommendation from the planning and zoning commission.

Bradford’s ruling later was found to be incorrect.

A federal lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in August 2019 after it was discovered during an unrelated zoning matter that city officials had erred in their interpretation of the zoning code in 2016.

Rex Elliott, a Columbus attorney who was representing 3799 Mill Run Partners, told ThisWeek at the time that the mistake came to light in January 2019 when Swensons Drive-In Restaurants sought to reverse a PUD modification the planning and zoning commission had rejected.

In a similar manner, City Council voted 4-3 to allow the PUD modification, contrary to the recommendation of the commission.

With the approval, Swensons eventually opened in September 2019 at 4810 Cemetery Road.

After researching the city code, city officials had discovered language for the requirement of a council supermajority to act contrary to the recommendation of the planning and zoning commission was absent concerning a PUD modification, for which only a simple majority was required, Bradford previously told ThisWeek.

However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in December 2020 upheld a June 2020 decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to dismiss the complaint by 3799 Mill Run Partners against Hilliard.

The language in the Sixth Circuit decision indicated the court considered it incumbent on the plaintiff to have discovered the error.

Shoot Point Blank would have been a $3.5 million facility with 30 new jobs and annual revenue of about $3.6 million, Jackson told ThisWeek at the time.

The range instead opened as Shoot Point Blank in Lewis Center in Delaware County.



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