Ordinance will apply to medical marijuana only
by Randy Parks
After approving a business license for a medical marijuana dispensary on Sept. 10, 2014, and holding open meetings to receive public input, the Burns City Council established time, place and manner (TPM) restrictions for the business at their meeting on Jan. 14.
Mayor Craig LaFollette said the council reviewed the public’s input, considered all aspects, and was moving forward. He said the council wasn’t changing its previous decision, and would use the TPM restrictions to mitigate safety concerns expressed by the public.
Jeremy Green, legal counsel for the city, was in attendance by phone and reviewed the TPM restrictions that would be implemented with the city ordinance. The restrictions include: an annual permit is required; a dispensary shall not be located within 1,000 feet of a public or private school, or within 1,000 feet of another dispensary. The ordinance will also include language to include a youth club, such as the Kids Club of Harney County, as an additional restriction. However, the current dispensary location will be grandfathered in to allow it to operate within the 1,000-foot boundary of the Kids Club; edibles sold at the dispensary will be packaged so as not to entice minors, and the manner of packaging and labeling will adhere to descriptions set forth in Oregon Administrative Rules; a person convicted of a felony within the past five years will not be allowed to be employed at the dispensary; and the city will be responsible for auditing the business.
Green stated the ordinance is for medical marijuana, not recreational marijuana. He said the state is currently developing regulations for recreational marijuana, not available until Jan. 1, 2016, and the city will look at drafting an ordinance as those regulations come out.
The council voted unanimously to approve the TPM restrictions.
Green added that under Measure 91, passed in November 2014, legalizing the possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana by adults 21 and older, the sole opportunity for a municipality to prohibit a marijuana business is by the petition process. He said the most clear-cut approach is to pursue the petition as outlined in the measure, but noted that the legal challenges are “great and problematic.”
During the citizens’ comments portion of the meeting, Grant Gunderson asked when the decision was made to not start the whole process over again? He said he was disappointed in the council, and hoped that they “wouldn’t be taken in by this great ruse that marijuana has medicinal value.”
Bev LaFollette said the decision has “hindered us as a community,” and was unhappy that the dispensary will be located across the highway from her business.
“I’m going to do what I can to make him move. I’ll make him feel uncomfortable. You guys screwed up,” she said.
Kim Rollins said he has been watching the dispensary issue from the start, and he was proud of the council. “Thank you to all,” he said.
Samantha Landon, owner of Beauty on Broadway and Bella Java Bistro, approached the council with concerns that her place of business was being unfairly targeted by Burns Fire Chief Scott Williamson.
Landon said the State Fire Marshal had visited her business in September of last year and pointed out some things that needed to be rectified. The following month, she received a letter saying if she had not complied, the business would be shut down. She said Williamson had heard they weren’t in compliance and filed a report, even though he had “never set foot on the property.”
Landon said Williamson visited her business three more times, and turned her in for building code violations, that were quickly corrected, and he was heard discussing her business with another business owner in town.
Landon said she knows there are things that need to be done and she doesn’t have a problem with that, but she felt her business was being targeted with the repeated inspections, and the conduct of the fire chief was unprofessional.
Karine Johnson, Deputy State Fire Marshal, said restaurants are considered a higher danger, and Williamson was obligated to pass information on and start the process.
In other business:
• Becky Cunningham gave a report on Rimrock Recycling, and said she had been contacted by USDA Rural Development about grant funding for expansion of recycling. She asked the council for a letter of support to send to the agency;
• City Clerk and Interim City Manager Dauna Wensenk said the council is still moving forward with filling the city manager position. At the next meeting, the council will outline the process and discuss any changes in the job description;
• Mayor LaFollette asked for volunteers to serve on a task force to draft a flood damage prevention ordinance;
• Councilor Terri Presley reported the airport committee had discussed the deficit at the airport and decided the best course of action would be to take $120,000 from the Local Improvement District (LID) fund, apply it to the deficit, and then pay back the LID fund over a 10-year period, with interest.
The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, at city hall.