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Pot-business dreams go up in smoke

Gaston's narrowly approved ban leaves feed store in limbo

A proposed indoor marijuana grow operation slated for the former Gaston Feed site is no longer viable, given that Gaston voters narrowly approved a ballot measure last month that would ban all future marijuana businesses from the city limits.

According to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, that vote will basically close down two potential marijuana-related businesses.

Leonard Jones bought the Gaston Feed from owner Dave Rohrer Sept. 1 with the intent to turn it into an indoor grow operation for recreational marijuana. The city signed off on his land-use statement, confirming that the building was correctly zoned for such an operation.

But according to OLCC spokesperson Mark Pettinger, a license for the operation hasn't yet been approved.

Same with another potential marijuana businessman who approached the city about a month before the election, wanting to open a store at 104 Mill St. that would offer both medical and recreational marijuana, according to Gaston Mayor Tony Hall.

Steve Shore visited City Hall Oct. 12, Hall said, asking about locations. The site he chose appeared to be just outside the state-required 1,000-foot buffer required between a marijuana store and any schools — at least on one map. Hall said the site was partially inside that buffer zone according to a different map.

Once again, the site was appropriately zoned for such a business so the city signed off on the forms.

With the Nov. 8 ban on recreational marijuana-related businesses, the permit applications from Shore and Jones will be denied, Pettinger said.

That can't happen, however, until the city sends the OLCC the newly approved ordinance with the legal language from the ballot measure showing the city has opted out of future marijuana businesses.

Even if the OLCC had already granted a license, the license wouldn’t have been renewed when the time came to do so, Pettinger said.

Contacted Monday, Jones confirmed he didn't have his permit but when asked about the city's recent vote to ban marijuana businesses and how that affected his plans, he said, "I don't know anything about it."

Shore did not return a phone call.

Gaston seems pretty evenly divided on the issue of marijuana-related businesses. Previous News-Times Facebook posts on Jones's recreational grow plans sparked heated online debate between pro- and anti-marijuana contingents.

The Nov. 8 vote to ban marijuana operations was 145 to 137 — 52 percent to 48 percent. If five “yes” voters had changed their minds, the measure would have passed.