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Forest Grove approves two pot-growing operations

Indoor grow sites to go in on Heather and Elm streets

Forest Grove will be welcoming two new indoor marijuana growing facilities to town.

The Forest Grove Planning Commission approved conditional-use permits for both sites after public hearings at its meeting Monday night, Oct. 17.

One property is located at 1411 Heather Street and used to house a variety of businesses, including Tektronix. Progressive Property Management is the applicant for that site.

The other site is a vacant lot off Elm Street near Pro Build Lumber and Sake One. The Elm Street site used to include a house, but it burned down in September of last year. Cold Frame LLC is the applicant.

Testimony was scarce.

Forest Grove resident Lilah Corwin, who lives on Mountain View Lane, testified against the indoor grow operation on Heather Street. She worries about the facility’s proximity to Neil Armstrong Middle School (NAMS), odor, congestion on nearby roads — especially during sporting events at NAMS — and her home value decreasing with the grow facility so close.

Corwin said she experienced some issues with noise and odor when other businesses occupied the space.

The building is about 350 feet from Corwin's neighboring housing development.

Planning Commission Chair Tom Beck said the commission didn’t have a lot of voting options because the zoning at each site — light industrial and general industrial, respectively — allows grow operations.

A few conditions were written into the permit for the Heather Street operation, partly because state marijuana laws set strict standards for grow operations concerning odor and security.

The building entrance must be visible from the road, making it easier and more visible for police response. Grow operators will also have to reduce some of the trees and other landscape features. And both grow sites will need to install special filters to mitigate odor.

Commission member Phil Ruder, who has children attending NAMS, said he didn’t see the harm in the Heather Street facility, which will have no visible marijuana plants and has been sitting vacant for a few years. It will also bring jobs to town, he said.

Site manager Margo Wheeler said she's hoping the business will be good for the community. With the strict city and state security standards, she believes there will likely be less crime than there would be with the lot sitting vacant.

Operators of the Elm Street site will develop the space in two stages and erect three metal buildings all together that will fit in with the style of nearby businesses, said Forest Grove Senior Planner Dan Riordan.

It will be allowed to operate 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The permit, among other things, requires secure disposal of byproducts. On trash collection day, the facility's dumpsters are required to be set in a highly visible area with security cameras.