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Lake Oswego looks at pot business regulations

Time, place and manner restrictions need to be finalized in case voters overturn an existing ban


Lake Oswego’s Planning Commission held an initial work session Tuesday to develop a set of time, place and manner restrictions for the marijuana industry in the event that residents vote in November to overturn an existing ban.

Planning Director Scot Siegel outlined several possible sets of regulations that could be imposed, along with maps showing the portions of the city that would allow marijuana businesses in each scenario.

“The purpose here is to look at the zoning issues, the location questions and the land use impacts,” Siegel said, adding that the commission should not focus on issues such as crime or taxation.

State law mandates a 1,000-foot “buffer zone” around all schools, prohibiting any marijuana business presence within the boundary. But individual cities are free to expand or add to that restriction, and the Lake Oswego City Council has directed the commission to examine a 1,500-foot boundary and consider adding similar buffer zones to other areas where children are likely to congregate.

In the most restrictive scenario, a 1,500-foot buffer zone would be placed around all schools, parks, civic sites and state-licensed child care facilities within the city limits. This would effectively push all marijuana facilities out of the downtown and Foothills districts, with the exception of a very small piece of land next to the edge of Foothills Park.

Most of the rest of Lake Oswego is zoned as residential and therefore already off-limits by default. Businesses would be limited to the office space around Meadows Road south of Kruse Way, as well as a few parts of the southwest industrial area.

At the other end of the spectrum, the 1,500-foot buffer zone could be applied only to schools. This would expand the permissible areas in the southwest industrial zone and along Meadows Road. It would also allow for marijuana businesses in parts of downtown, Foothills and Old Town, as well as the Oswego Towne Square shopping center in Mountain Park.

Siegel showed several other maps depicting options in between the two extremes, such as a 1,500-foot buffer zone around schools and parks but only a 500-foot barrier around day care facilities. The full set of maps can be viewed on the City’s website at ci.oswego.or.us/boc_pc/planning-commission-104.

The commission also examined the terminology used in existing City regulations, looking for rules that might need to be updated. For example, Siegel pointed out that current City rules define all plant nurseries as “production” facilities, which are limited to industrial areas. However, the sale of plants does not count as production unless the plants are also being propagated in the same facility, which could potentially allow for starter marijuana plants to be sold at downtown retail locations.

Siegel asked the commission to consider whether to allow production facilities such as grow sites or extraction and processing centers in the Foothills district, which is the one industrial area where they could be permitted under current City rules. But he pointed out potential concerns, such as plant odors, bright grow lights and the use of combustible production chemicals such as butane.

The commission didn’t make any major decisions at Tuesday’s meeting, opting to catch up with the topic and get a better understanding of the regulations first.

“The key purpose of our work session tonight is to familiarize ourselves with these issues,” said Chairman Randy Arthur.

According to Siegel, the next step in the process will be for City staff to draft a preliminary public ordinance before a second commission work session on April 11. A public review draft will then be made available during the second half of April, and residents will be able to have input at a public hearing on May 23.

Contact Anthony Macuk at 503-636-1281 ext. 108 or amacuk@lakeoswegoreview.com.

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