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City says no to medical marijuana dispensaries... for now

Woodburn City Council has passed an ordinance temporarily prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries from the city limits.

The new ordinance approved Feb. 24 delays the permitting of marijuana dispensaries until the Woodburn Planning Commission can identify and recommend proper zoning and conditions of approval, similar to other types of businesses.

The council voted 5-0 to approve the ordinance, with one abstention cast by councilor Jim Cox.

“I feel it ought to be a statewide policy on these kinds of things,” he said. “I don’t think each city should make up its own rules (regarding this issue). Medical marijuana was approved by the voters.”

But other councilors were hesitant to just allow medical marijuana dispensaries without regulations.

“I think we need to prohibit it right now,” said Councilor Frank Lonergan. “That gives us the opportunity to be smart and come up with a plan.”

Ward 6 Councilor Eric Morris pointed out that if a medical marijuana dispensary were to come to Woodburn, it would most likely land in his ward because of its inclusion of a generous portion of Highway 99E.

“I’ve talked to people and they don’t want it coming into their neighborhood,” he said.

Councilor Lisa Ellsworth pointed out that the city regulates day cares and gas stations, so “why not regulate medical marijuana dispensaries?”

City Attorney Bob Shields also pointed out that the ordinance is only for 120 days.

“You aren’t banning it, you’re simply regulating it,” he said.

The city can adopt an ordinance in one meeting if it gets unanimous approval. Cox withdrew his “no” vote and instead abstained to prevent another meeting for a second reading of the policy. He said it was because he knew he was in the minority anyway.

“The force behind it is those who simply don’t like medical marijuana,” he said. “We’re saying we want to adopt an emergency ordinance … for the four months — that is a land use decision. Cities can’t make land use decisions without going through a process. I just don’t like the process this went through.”

Other business

Fiesta funding: Also at the Feb. 24 city council meeting, the council approved that the city can enter into an agreement for services with the Woodburn Area Chamber of Commerce and Woodburn Area Tourism.

The agreement would supply $25,000 specifically for Fiesta Mexicana using its transient occupancy tax (TOT) funds.

WAT coordinator Ruby Wolfer addressed the council, alerting them that this year’s Fiesta will be only two days instead of the familiar three days, and it will be held Aug. 2-3.

The council recognized the historical and economic impact the Fiesta has on the city.

Land annexation: The Woodburn City Council also held its first public hearing on a property annexation since 2001.

The process of acquiring the 1.1-acre property in question, 1225 Brown St., began nearly 11 months ago, according to Jim Hendryx, economic development director.

Simon Molodih, the applicant wishing to annex the land, expressed interest in previous meetings that upon acquiring the property on the corner of Brown Street and Vine Avenue, he wished to build a group of homes on the lot.

When given an opportunity to speak as part of the public hearing, Molodih simply stated, “I’m happy.”

The council passed the ordinance for annexation unanimously.

Water line relocation: The city council voted unanimously to award the construction contract for the Interstate 5 Interchange waterline relocation along Highway 214, from Frontage Road to the Tunnel Project, to K&E Excavating in the amount of $348,790.

Fifty percent of this money is credited against the city’s overall $8 million financial obligation to the interchange project and was included in this year’s budget, according to Jason Horton, communications coordinator for the city.

The contract involves the relocation of approximately 1,900 lineal feet of 12-inch ductile iron waterline pipe, 420 lineal feet of eight-inch ductile iron waterline pipe, and 70 lineal feet of six-inch ductile iron waterline pipe on Highway 214, from the Frontage Road to the Tunnel that is east of Oregon Way.

The project also includes the reconnection of 11 water service laterals.

The project was identified in the Capital Construction Projects of the adopted budget for fiscal year 2013-14.

Five-year forecast: City Administrator Scott Derickson and Finance Director Christina Shearer addressed the council to share predictions for the city’s financial future.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” Derickson told the council. “Cuts have been deep but we’re thinking we’ll be able to avoid layoffs this year.”

Shearer noted that because there hasn’t been a lot of development, property tax revenues have not increased.

“Revenue is not growing as fast as expenses,” she said. “But we’re just beginning an upward climb.”



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  • 21 Sep 2014

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