County goes for year's grace on pot
Voting in favor were Commissioners Kathy George and Allen Springer. Commissioner Mary Stern missed the meeting due to a death in the family.
That would thwart plans by leading local medical marijuana advocate Jim Galba from opening a dispensary in Bunn Village, as it falls under county jurisdiction. Though present for the discussion and vote, Galba, owner of H2Organics, declined immediate comment.
The action came virtually simultaneously with legislative action on a bill that would prevent Oregon cities and counties from “banning” dispensaries. It was not immediately clear how that legislation might fare, as it hasn’t yet emerged from committee, or how it might affect a time-limited moratorium like the county is considering.
George said she was concerned by an array of issues raised by Sheriff Jack Crabtree that were not addressed in a new state law opening the door to dispensaries.
“I hesitate to open this up as a county, not because I want to keep people who have medical needs for marijuana from getting it, but because I am concerned about the lapses in the law,” George said. “There are a lot of questions this law has left unanswered.”
George said she supported a moratorium for a year because it allowed for the legislature to work through amendments to the law, and those conversations are happening in Salem this session.
Having watched his sister suffer from cancer, Springer said he was sympathetic to the potential medicinal benefits. But he said he shared George’s concerns and thought delaying implementation of dispensaries for a year was a good idea.
The county is up against the gun on the issue, as the Oregon Health Authority is scheduled to begin accepting dispensary applications March 3.
In other business, the commissioners:
n Took two hours of testimony on a controversial bed and breakfast application filed by Scott and Melody Gibson for a site in the groundwater limited Eola Hills of Amity.
The planning commission denied the application on a 7-1 vote. The Gibsons brought it before the board on appeal.
After hearing from attorneys and witnesses, commissioners decided to leave the record open and continue the hearing March 13.
The county planning staff is expected to present its recommendation then. It recommended approval at the planning commission level.
n Adopted formal findings in support of their decision last month to approve a zone change form public works to exclusive farm use for 282 acres that includes the existing 88-acre Riverbend Landfill and proposed 37-acre expansion site.
The commissioners attached a long list of conditions to its approval. They include a demand that Riverbend’s parent firm, Waste Management Inc., establish a high-tech waste processing plant on the site within seven years or cease operations.
Once the zone change issue has been fully resolved, Waste Management intends to seek approval of the proposed expansion itself. That will trigger another round of hearings before both the planning commission and board of commissioners.