By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Wayne's World appears not worthy of planners' approval

Wayne Stocks’ plan to open a new marijuana dispensary less than 1,000 feet from his nearest competitor may already be up in smoke.

McMinnville planning commissioners set a public hearing Dec. 21 to hear Stocks’ argument why the 1,000 feet between dispensaries required by the city should be reduced to 750 feet in his case, but Stocks didn’t appear.

Instead, a day before the hearing, he asked that he be allowed to be heard Thursday, Jan. 18, so he has time to build a more solid case.

Commission Chair Roger Hall can’t imagine commissioners could be swayed by anything Stocks has to say.

“Unless he comes up with something drastically different from what he’s got now, he doesn’t have a case,” Hall said.

Most commissioners seemed ready to vote against Stocks’ request for an exception to the law without hearing his arguments. Then City Attorney David Koch advised them it would be good form to hold the hearing next month anyway.

Planning Director Heather Richards said Stocks’ application offered sweeping observations about the importance of free trade but almost nothing specific about why he should be allowed to operate within 750 of the nearest dispensaries.

Jennifer Sanders operates Green Heart Oregon at 1500 S.W. Baker St. Sanders and Stocks were originally partners in Green Heart’s first business that operated in the former Jake’s Deli location — where Stocks now wants to try again.

After their business partnership dissolved, Sanders moved Green Heart farther down Baker Street.

Stocks’ proposed site for his business, which he plans to call Wayne’s World after a series in the “Saturday Night Live” sketches and movies, is located at a main entrance to the Linfield College campus.

Linfield officials are strongly opposed to his plans. Although last week’s meeting wasn’t a hearing, commissioners let representatives from the college voice their opposition.

John McKeegan, Linfield’s general legal counsel, said the issue boils down to the rivalry between Stocks and Sanders. “Were it not that two business partners who went their separate ways, we wouldn’t be here tonight,” he said.

Associate Planner Chuck Darnell clarified that nothing is on the record that suggests Stocks wants to locate his dispensary at the deli site to spite Sanders or cut into Green Heart’s business.

“The applicant’s reasoning for allowing the reduction is all provided in his application, but other than the arguments that he has provided, I can’t speak for any other intentions that he may have,” Darnell said.

If commissioners decided in favor of Stocks for some reason, McKeegan predicted it would set a bad precedent. Large businesses in McMinnville could find themselves surrounded by pot dealers, he said.

Mary Ann Rodriguez, the vice president of finance and administration at Linfield, said she doesn’t accept Stocks’ generalities about north McMinnville dominating local retail.

“There are enough retail options in this geographic region of McMinnvile,” she said.

For commissioners to grant exceptions to zoning laws, Richards said, applicants must prove a law presents a particular hardship for a specific site. Stocks has so far failed to do that, she said.

Neither has he been able to argue that the distance requirement threatens the preservation of his property rights, she added.

Applicants are also required to seek solutions that offer the minimum deviations from the law. Stocks failed in this regard, too, Richards said.

For his part, Stocks, a former city councilor and planning Commissioner, said in his original application that there is no reason to maintain the 1,000 separation rule.

“With no real purpose for this ordinance and no known problems in more than a year with the new marijuana law, restricting fair trade is not serving the population of McMinnville with reduced retail choices,” he wrote. “There are several properties that could benefit from the reduced restriction. Their hardship is lost lease value.”

He contended there are twice as many commercially zoned properties in north McMinnville than in south. “Based on available land in south McMinnville, the distance limit should be half as much,” he said. “This would allow equal land lease value to both north and south McMinnville.”

Stocks faces a tough challenge next month. In letting Linfield representatives raise their criticisms of Stocks’ application, Hall suggested commissioners are going to need a great deal of persuasion.

“It’s unfair to have you wait all this time and not get to talk, but you may be preaching to the choir,” he said.

Comments

leo

If Green Heart is at 15000 SW Baker, as the article claims, then it would be quite a distance from the applicants building. And no where near Linfield College.
If you correct the address, please delete my comment.

tagup

I personally agree with stock's assessment that there is no good reason for the 1000' separation rule. There are many businesses where you can buy wine/beer and liquor within 1000' feet of each other (like 3rd Street)...this rule just seems arbitrary.
Not sure why Linfield has any standing in this discussion...I understand their motivation, but Stock's business seems no different than the 7-11 store that sells alcohol right across the street from the main entrance.

Paul Daquilante

Address has been corrected to 1500 S.W. Baker St., just south of the Linfield College entrance.

Paul Daquilante / reporter

Mudstump

How about letting free-market competition take its course here? Don't we want to get government out of the way?

McMinnville Planning Department

The December 21 meeting was a noticed public hearing to consider Wayne Stocks' request for a variance from the 1000' separation requirement in the McMinnville City Code for commercial recreational marijuana outlets. Wayne Stocks was not there but his application was provided to the Planning Commission and people were allowed to testify either as proponents or opponents to the application. A couple of days prior to the meeting, Wayne Stocks requested that the public hearing be continued to January 18, 2018. This request was approved and the public hearing to consider this land-use application will be continued to January 18, 2018, 6:30 PM, Kent Taylor Civic Hall, 200 NE Second Street.

More information about the application, review criteria and findings of fact can be found on the City of McMinnville website at:

https://www.mcminnvilleoregon.gov/planning/page/variance-vr-3-17-1214-sw-baker-street

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