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Dundee may buck the trend on pot dispensaries

Under recommendations by planning commission to City Council, parks buffer zone would not be enacted and hours of operation would not be regulated


The Dundee Planning Commission has approved recommendations to send to City Council, suggesting the city add few restrictions to the development code on medical marijuana dispensaries beyond those mandated by state law.

The council began the process of amending the development code at a Feb. 3 meeting, voting to send some proposed changes to the planning commission for consideration. The commission was tasked with recommending whether to apply additional restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries, which the city will allow to operate beginning May 1 following a year-long moratorium, on top of the final statewide rules.

In particular the commission was asked to consider a potential 1000-foot buffer zone around parks, allowed hours of operation and whether the code language should include all marijuana establishments rather than differentiating between medical and recreational. The latter consideration comes in anticipation of recreational marijuana dispensaries becoming permitted by the state, which is expected no sooner than January 2016.

The commission recommended restricting dispensaries to commercial zones, but removing the parks buffer zone from the code language. Commissioner Jerry Fiedler said this restriction could unnecessarily clutter up the code as only one park would be affected; others fall into non-commercial zones or are covered by the buffer zone around Dundee Elementary School.

Removing the would-be buffer zone around the affected park, Fortune Park located at 700 S.E. Locust St., means that some additional spaces along Highway 99W would allow dispensaries.

“A thousand feet from that (park) you have a light industrial zone, a railroad and a highway, so how’s a kid on the other side of the light industrial zone going to be affected by the retail zone?” Fiedler said.

The commission also recommended removing restrictions on the hours dispensaries can operate.

“There are probably some good reasons to limit hours for something, but for a retail store where people walk through a door, do their business and walk out of a door, does it really matter?” Fielder said, adding that the imposition of time restrictions could be seen as an overreach by the city. “It’s going to be a natural limit — we don’t tell the restaurants or wineries when to close, they close when the customers stop showing up.”

Besides removing the restrictions, the planning commission recommended changing the code language so that it does not differentiate between medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries. This move began with a recommendation by the council with the intent of avoiding similar planning sessions once recreational marijuana laws are introduced next year.

“We’re expecting that the state laws for medical and recreational will be very similar. I don’t think they’re going to be more lenient (with recreational) than medical marijuana. We changed the law once rather than twice,” Fielder said.

The city has not received any applications for dispensary business licenses yet, said City Administrator Rob Daykin.

Earlier in March the Newberg Planning Commission held a similar meeting considering its recommendations to the Newberg City Council. That commission included a 1000-foot buffer around parks as well as limiting hours of operation to 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. in its recommendations. It also recommended restricting dispensaries to the major commercial zones in the city and declined to change the language to cover both medical and recreational facilities.

The Dundee City Council will consider the commission’s recommendations at an April 7 public hearing, while Newberg’s City Council will meet April 6 to discuss the issue.

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