By Don Iler • News Editor • 

Proposed Linfield buffer raises ire

The stage was scheduled to be set Thursday night, at a planning commission meeting being held too late to make today’s edition of the News-Register. An account will be posted online afterward.

Linfield sought a buffer after learning former city councilor and planning commissioner Wayne Stocks intended to establish The Green Heart medical marijuana dispensary in the former Jakes Deli quarters near the college’s main entrance.

President Thomas Hellie said a buffer was needed because the college hosts thousands of minors on its campus every year. He said he was concerned about marijuana sales occurring so close to a place where minors congregate.

Undeterred by Stocks’ protest, he said, “We believe that our request is appropriate now, because the college is very troubled by a dispensary that could be located within a few yards of one of our main entrance signs, and less than 100 yards from our admissions office.”

Stocks said he was upset to see the college trying to dictate what kind of businesses can operate near campus. “Are we going to allow Linfield College to determine land use for all those businesses on the south end of town?” he said.

A 1,000 foot buffer around Linfield’s sprawling campus would eliminate marijuana operations from most available property on the south end of town. And with two dispensaries already operating on the north end of town, and parks, schools and other public facilities already enjoying buffers, that would likely preclude any more dispensaries from setting up shop in the city.

Stocks is also upset with the last-minute nature of the college’s request, after he’s already invested more than $100,000 on salaries and other expenses associated with his venture. If Linfield had requested a buffer when other local buffers were established much earlier in the process, before he signed a lease on the former restaurant quarters, he would have been fine with it, he said.

“This was a legal location for a dispensary and we made business decisions based on that,” he said. 

Stocks has already taken out building permits for renovation of the property to suit his needs. And he already has an application pending with the state for medical dispensary licensing.

However, the licensing process is backed up about 12 weeks, and he worries that will allow the college and city to mount a successful end run.

Stocks said he would be fine with a buffer around the preschool Linfield operates, and around its dining hall and athletic fields, where children may gather for athletic camps. But he said drawing a buffer around the whole campus was too much.

He may already have invested enough time, toil and money to establish grandfather rights, but no one seemed to be sure about that, one way or the other. Meanwhile, both sides are circulating petitions designed to rally support for their point of view.

Hellie has been circulating a petition on campus to demonstrate student, staff and faculty opposition to the dispensary. Stocks has been circulating a petition in town to demonstrate business community support for his right to proceed unfettered.

Steve Allen, who owns the building and operated a popular deli there until his recent retirement, took Stocks’ side. He said he didn’t think the college, which he referred to as “one company in the south end of McMinnville,” had “any right or power to control all of our business.”

If the college was truly concerned about exposing minors to regulated substances, it would oppose alcohol sales on the property it leases to Albertsons and refuse to host the International Pinot Noir Celebration, he said. Stocks made similar points, saying alcohol has an adverse influence in many people’s lives, so singling out marijuana is hypocritical on the college’s part.

Hellie defended the IPNC, saying it is held during a summer week when no minors are on campus and no other events are planned. He denied there was anything hypocritical about the college’s position.

Stocks said the dispensary would be checking IDs at the door to prevent minors from entering, and perform checks again on any purchases.

He said he planned to make the quarters discreet and classy. They were not going to feature any head shop trappings, like bongs hanging in windows, he said.

He also noted he plans to limit his operation to medical rather than recreational users. He said one section would be operated as a medical dispensary and another as an informational center aimed at educating people on the medicinal benefits.

Stocks said members of the Oregon public had made their views known at the polls, and that should be respected. 

“A majority voted for it because they’re forward-thinking and educated,” he said. “I think it’s wrong for a select little group to change that.”

Comments

Joel2828

Seems to me that the marijuana activists not only want to legally smoke their drug, they also want society to tell them that it is appropriate and acceptable. How dare Linfield insinuate that it is wrong? I think deep down we all know that it is wrong. Just because you can round up enough voters to legalize something...doesn't make it right. As my Grandpa used to say "hit pigeons flutter."

tagup

I think "society" already said it's approprate and acceptable with the vote. The fact that you or anyone else think it's wrong doesn't reflect the majority opinion.

This is not about right or wrong, this is about Linfield trying to protect it's image by attempting to dictate what can and can't be done on someone else's property. Mr Stocks is absolutly correct in pointing out the hypocricy of Linfield's objection to his business plan.

Lulu

A college is a college--it's not an elementary school and the students are no longer children. This business is for medical marijuana only. Grow up, Linfield, and stop your silly histrionics.

Jake

The new zoning proposal where Linfield College controls the whole south end of McMinnville is a land grab. What is the objection to the current zoning? If it is truly about minors being too close- then they need to re-access what they are offering on their own property. They own the large commercial business that sells alcohol & tobacco (Albertsons) on Linfield’s property and they promote alcohol consumption with a week long festival that celebrates alcohol (IPNC). Allowing the sale of alcohol on the college property and not wanting to allow the legal sale of marijuana within 1,000 feet of the Linfield campus is hypocritical. We know that this proposal is to control the property at 1208 SW Baker St. Upon investigation it will also control many more Commercial and Industrial properties with the 1,000 foot proposal. One business should not be the only consideration on what legal commerce is placed in McMinnville because of their opinion. The buffer zone in no way will change anything that goes on at Linfield. This buffer will not prevent students from getting alcohol, marijuana and more harmful drugs that are already available illegally on Linfield’s campus. Joel its not about debating drugs or alcohol weather it is right or wrong, it is about property control. Linfield does not pay all the commercial and or industrial taxes around their expansive properties so they should not have a say in what is done with them. One reason the dispensary is located here is that's where the city maps said it should be through the state and city rules. Next Linfield will want to go after the grocery store's across the street to move all their promotions of alcohol, tobacco and lottery, and close them because its not a good image for Linfield. As your grandpa used to say "hit pigeons flutter".

Oracle Jones

Do the people of McMinnville not realize the improvement of
McMinnville's quality of life, financial and culturally, that
Linfield College gives. Look at the big picture.

tagup

Lots of people said that about Evergreen too!

Tugboat

Mr. or Mrs. Oracle Jones,

Looking at the big picture, I think the people of McMinnville do indeed realize the importance and benefit of Linfield. Go Wildcats! However, many agree with the well-respected, longtime McMinnville and Linfield supporter, Mr. Steve Allen, it is hypocritical to ban one legal substance while allowing the sale of other mind-altering substances (ie. alcohol). Yes, marijuana is a substance that can be abused and harmful if mis-used, just as alcohol or tobacco or Mountain Dew, for that matter. This will be a medicinal marijuana facility, which will be important and beneficial to the patients it serves, improving their quality of life.

joe

I can't find the account posted online by the NEWS REGISTER. If you covered the meeting, why can't my e-paper post something before next Monday at 5 P.M. ?

Jeb Bladine

The real meeting is next Tuesday night -- a public hearing on the entire matter. Thursday night's meeting at the planning commission was an uneventful preview of the proposed ordinance ... all the testimony, and a city council decision, comes Tuesday.


Here's hoping some of the over-reaction turns into calmer debate on the issue.

Linfield isn't demanding, just requesting; the school isn't involved in a power-grab or land-grab, it simply is proposing a buffer like we will have for all public schools, the library, aquatic center, etc. It's a proposal people can debate, it seems, without name calling ... and without hyperbole about going after grocery stores or promoting alcohol because once a year an internationally acclaimed event takes place on the closed campus.

Personally, I can understand why Linfield would not want a high profile marijuana business at the primary front door of their campus. Strip clubs are legal, too, but who would blame Linfield for not wanting one of those at its front entrance?

At the same time, extending a 1,000-foot buffer around the entire campus grounds seems excessive. It's a proposal that deserves a straight-forward debate.

In the process, people should remember that the medical marijuana business likely will be "grandfathered" at the former Jake's Deli site. That's because it was undertaken with apparently considerable investment under land use laws allowing its placement there. if that's true, it should be declared up front at Tuesday night's meeting so it doesn't become a volatile straw man issue in the public hearing.

Jeb Bladine

tagup

Mr Bladine,
I think you touched one a very relevant point when you stated that Linfield wants a buffer like we have around the public schools, the aquatic center and the library...the only flaw in that comparison is that Linfield is a private institution, and should be treated as such. Whether you call it a request or a demand, it is still an attempt to control the activity on someone else's property.

Mudstump

Mr. Bladine,

Most medical marijuana businesses are not "high profile." They are usually very discrete in their appearance and activity. You have to have an Oregon medical marijuana card to get in to the pharmacy area where marijuana is kept and displayed. No card..no entrance....you can't even get a look at the product from the inside the front door. Patients have to be buzzed in after they have presented their ID and signed in. This is hardly a threat to college students or anyone in the community for that matter.

Jeb Bladine

I guessing, tagup, that you will want the city to eliminate the proposed buffer around St. James School and other parochial schools, also private institutions.

All land use regulations -- zoning limits, sign ordinances, conditional uses, planned development overlays, etc. -- are an effort to control what can happen on people's property. That's the one constant of all proposals going to the city planning commission, and often to the city council.

This debate, I think, really relates to recreational marijuana sales, since I think the medical dispensary plan will be grandfathered in. Linfield may be more concerned about the image projected to families of prospective students from a recreational marijuana business at their entrance. Since the people putting the medical business plan together have said they oppose and will not get into the recreational pot business, perhaps it will resolve that part of the controversy.

But again, my point isn't to advocate for the buffer. I'm just saying it should be accepted as a proposal from a concerned party, like hundreds of other land use proposals in past years, and debated without rancor.

tagup

I'm not sure a comparison of St James and Linfield is valid just based on the student demographics, and no I am not advocating that the existing buffers be eliminated. Your point does make me wonder why the zoning restrictions that exist around St James were not granted to Linfield previously....were they thought to be unnecessary?
I understand and can appreciate zoning & land use regulations. I would like to believe that those laws are developed for the benefit of the public in general, not just to meet the wishes (or protect the image)of a single entity, as seems to be the motivation in this case.

Jeb Bladine

Tagup,

Not really meaning to argue about land use, but a whole lot of activity in that area of law involves individual people or businesses or neighborhoods asking for limitations on land around them. We see it with proposals for apartments, large commercial development, homeless shelters, etc., which might serve the larger community but be considered nuisance to its nearby neighbors.

So far as schools, I shouldn't have raised the St. James issue as a proposal -- I think private schools like St. James already have required buffers under state law and under the existing city law for medical dispensaries.

Should be an interesting public hearing on Tuesday ... no doubt with full coverage on NR website and in next issue.

Lulu

This is a college, people, not Romper Room.

tagup

Actually, I appreciate the conversation, and look forward to your coverage of the meeting and the decision that is forthcoming.

Michael

It a way for me it all seems like back to the future. When I went to U of O way so many years ago there was a no alcohol zone. We had to go to Max's Tavern several blocks away for a beer and good fellowship. That zone finally disappeared and now students of an age can have a beer and fellowship right across the street from the main entrance to campus. Once the decades of anti pot propaganda begins to subside in folks minds, like with alcohol (which is an extremely dangerous drug) we will try to educate so folks can make good decisions when and how to use pot. And yes like alcohol some will not make good decisions.
If the medical shop will be grandfathered at the very spot Linfield fears, then the 1000 foot zone seems excessive. A small zone around those cherished entrances to keep them from become pot bazaars that might lure weary parents who might want to relax from dropping off junior at the Linfield dorm.

JLane

Do you people realize how easy it is to get a medical marijuana card? These people who are trying to open this pot shop know what they are doing by wanting to open it by the college. Labeled as a medical dispensary means nothing as kids can go to the doctor and get a card for having "bad headaches" or "ADHD" I smoked a lot of pot in college and it nearly ruined my life. I was skipping class my freshman year to go get high, and almost got "kicked out" of college for poor grades. The last time I smoked I had a horrible anxiety attack and thought I was dying of a heart attack. It was awful. I have never touched the stuff again. And if this so called pot shop only wants to have pot for sick people, would would you go through the trouble of making chocolates and different edibles? This is a marketing tool for recreational pot use! If the city of McMinnville is smart, they would adhere to Linfield's request and not allow this pot shop to open. Linfield provides a lot of economic impact for the community and a pot shop isn't going to help anyone...especially when there are already two in town. Shut them down!

Mudstump

JLane - It might be best to tone down your hysterics with some facts. A patient in Oregon must submit 6 months of personal medical records to the OMMP clinic before they are allowed to schedule an appointment. These records are reviewed by the clinic physician to determine if they are eligible for an appointment. Once it is determined that the patient has legitimate medical issues necessary to warrant a card the patient is scheduled for an exam and appointment with the doctor. Once the doctor approves your card you must pay $180.00 for the doctor's appointment and $200 for the card plus any charges for the transfer of your medical records and registered mail postage to send your application to the state. I don't know about you, but most people, let alone students don't have $380 laying around...nor do they have 6 months of documented medical records proving the need for medical marijuana. These are not one-time costs. A patient must go through this process every year and pay $380 every year. I think most kids who want to smoke a joint will find that it is easier and cheaper to get their weed on the college campus.

Mudstump

Jane says, "And if this so called pot shop only wants to have pot for sick people, would would you go through the trouble of making chocolates and different edibles?"

What you fail to understand is that patients with medical marijuana cards are using marijuana because they are sick and marijuana relieves their pain,eases their nausea, stops their seizures, etc.... Some people don't smoke it or vaporize it, they use edibles as a way of making the medicine more palatable and the effects more consistent and longer lasting over time.

Horse with no name

Mudstump - Thank you for clarity, reason and good sense.

Don Dix

JLane -- the 'marketing tool for recreational pot' to which you refer would be the voters of Oregon. Maybe you should take it up with them!

Mudstump

JLane says, "Labeled as a medical dispensary means nothing as kids can go to the doctor and get a card for having "bad headaches" or "ADHD"

The OMMP is a state registry program within the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division. Registration with the program allows individuals in Oregon to legally use medical marijuana with the recommendation of an attending physician for the following conditions:
• Cancer;
• Glaucoma;
• Agitation due to Alzheimer’s disease;
• HIV/AIDS;
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
• A medical condition or treatment for a medical condition that produces one or more of the following:
» Cachexia (a weight-loss disease that can be caused by HIV or cancer);
» Severe pain;
» Severe nausea;
» Seizures, including but not limited to seizures caused by epilepsy;
» Persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to spasms caused by multiple sclerosis.
http://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/ChronicDisease/MedicalMarijuanaProgram/Pages/forms.aspx

ADHD is not one of the medical conditions that qualifies for a medical marijuana card and you can't just ask your physician for a card. It doesn't work that way.

Joel2828

Dear Kevin Jeffries,

Thanks for being a courageous voice of reason and decency. I wish your fellow councilors were as courageous as you are. But alas, it is a strange new world that we live in. Right is now wrong. Wrong is now right. Good is now bad. Up is now down. And we wonder why our kids are feeling so insecure and adrift and why most of us have this deep seated feeling of angst about the future.
And I'm afraid this is only the beginning. Wait till the pro meth campaigns start. Sound crazy? So did all this marijuana stuff just a few years ago. Hold on tight. As a society we are in for quite a ride in the years to come.

Regards, Joel

Mudstump

Joel2828 - "And I'm afraid this is only the beginning. Wait till the pro meth campaigns start. Sound crazy?"

Yes it does. It really does.

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