Pataskala officials were surprised last week when they learned that 35 acres on Mink Street was listed on a petition to allow residents to grow, process and sell medical marijuana in Ohio.

Pataskala officials were surprised last week when they learned that 35 acres on Mink Street was listed on a petition to allow residents to grow, process and sell medical marijuana in Ohio.

The land, purchased Jan. 7 by Dr. Suresh Gupta, a doctor in Dayton, is part of the petition to amend the state constitution.

The group circulating the petition is ResponsibleOhio. The amendment is intended to appear on the Nov. 3 general-election ballot.

Scott Fulton, Pataskala's planning director, said he was contacted several months ago by someone asking about the property at 6197 Mink St., which is north of Broad Street and zoned for agricultural use.

Fulton said the man asked if greenhouses for farming could be built on the property.

"We talked about a nursery operation and I told him there could be an agricultural exemption, depending on the size of the operation," Fulton said. "I told him as he got closer to construction we would have to talk again to make sure everything was in order and see if he needed any permits.

"I was a little surprised when I learned the true intent. He never once brought (a marijuana farm) up."

Fulton said it is too early in the process to determine what permits would be required for the farm.

The constitutional amendment includes a provision requiring the growing facilities to adhere to "health, safety and building codes, including signage," but states that "no zoning, land-use law or subdivision or agricultural regulation shall prohibit the development or operation of marijuana establishments, provided that no such establishment shall be located in a district zoned exclusively residential as of (Jan. 1, 2015)."

The amendment also limits placement of the farms within 1,000 feet of a "house of worship, a state-chartered elementary or secondary school, a publicly owned library or a state-licensed day care facility," or within 1,000 feet of a public playground.

Mayor Mike Compton said the Mink Street property is close to both the LEADS Community Action Agency on Adams Lane Southwest, which operates a day care and has a playground, and is near the entrance to Licking Heights High School.

Compton said he does not know the actual distances to both locations and does not have enough facts about the farm to comment on the proposal.

Police Chief Bruce Brooks also said he does not have enough information to comment on the farming operation.

"We would work to make sure the safety measures are in place to assure, or mostly assure, they won't get broken into," Brooks said.

Brooks said he is concerned at how organized-crime operations involved in the marijuana trade would react to any aspect of the drug's legalization.

About 19 acres in Grove City also is listed in the amendment, which includes 345 acres in 10 counties.

Each of the properties listed as farming operations would be owned by investors in the Nov. 3 ballot issue, according to the amendment.

To get the constitutional amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot,ResponsibleOhio would have to present 1,000 signatures in favor of the proposal to the Ohio Attorney General's Office for review and collect 305,591 valid signatures on a petition sent to the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, according to Matt McClellan, a spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State's Office.

McClellan said 305,591 represents 10 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the most recent election. That figure must include 5 percent of the amount of voters from 44 counties who participated in the most recent gubernatorial election, he said.

Petitions for constitutional amendments for the November general election are due July 1, 2015, according to the Ohio Secretary of State's website.