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Washington County close to zoning rules for marijuana facilities

Ordinance scheduled for adoption Oct. 27; no one testifies after much-revised proposal.

Washington County is one step away from new zoning authority to regulate marijuana produced and sold for both medicinal and adult use.

County commissioners have given preliminary approval to changes in their original 2014 ordinance that regulates medical marijuana dispensaries. A second reading and adoption will take place Oct. 27.

No one testified at the public hearing Tuesday.

The ordinance has been reviewed by the planning commission and the board of commissioners, which requested some changes on Sept. 15.

There were no dissenters on Tuesday’s vote, although Commissioner Bob Terry expressed misgivings about voter approval of Oregon’s 2014 ballot measure legalizing adult use, cultivation and purchase of marijuana.

“I think we’re just opening up a can of worms; the public has no idea,” Terry said. “It’s not good for us as a society.”

State lawmakers earlier this year empowered city councils and county boards of commissioners to adopt “reasonable” zoning regulation of marijuana production, processing, wholesale and retail sales for adult use, comparable to the 2013 law allowing regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries.

Local governments are trying to get their regulations in place by Jan. 4, when the Oregon Liquor Control Commission can start accepting applications for adult-use marijuana facilities that it will license. OLCC is expected to issue the first such licenses later in 2016.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 6, OLCC reported 10 counties — all but two east of the Cascades — and 25 cities choosing to opt out of allowing adult-use marijuana facilities. Some will have to put the issue to voters in the November 2016 general election.

Washington County’s ordinance applies in unincorporated areas outside cities. According to a planning department report, 10 of 13 current medical-marijuana dispensaries that have licenses from the Oregon Health Authority to operate in the county are outside cities.

Clackamas County, which has a total of 10 medical-marijuana dispensaries, also is proposing revisions in its zoning and development ordinance that commissioners adopted in the spring for medical-marijuana dispensaries. The first public hearing for those changes is scheduled by that county’s planning commission on Oct. 26.

Washington County’s ordinance would require 1,000-foot buffers between adult-use marijuana facilities, and shorten buffers from 2,000 to 1,000 feet between medical-marijuana facilities.

The ordinance also requires 1,000-foot buffers between marijuana facilities and several youth-oriented centers operated by the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District and specified in the ordinance.

They are the Aloha Swim Center, Beaverton Swim Center, Conestoga Recreation and Aquatic Center, Fanno Creek Service Center, Harman Swim Center, Rock Creek campus of Portland Community College, Sunset Swim Center, Sunset Park Sports Complex, and Terpening Recreation Complex. The latter consists of the Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center, Athletic Center and Tennis Center.

The county planning commission, on the advice of its staff, narrowed the original request to require 1,000-foot buffers between a marijuana facility and any park.

The ordinance proposes marijuana facilities as allowed uses in several zones, including general commercial, rural commercial, community business, and industrial. Uses also would be permitted in three specified transit-oriented districts and the North Bethany neighborhood commercial mixed-use district.

Six of Washington County’s nine cities have their own zoning regulations for medical-marijuana dispensaries, according to the county planning report. They are Beaverton, Forest Grove, Hillsboro, Sherwood, Tigard and Tualatin. Although the regulations vary, most require minimum 1,000-foot buffers from schools.

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