Where to grow?: Silverton Council debates putting pot in industrial park

January 2016 Posted in Community, News

By Kristine Thomas

Last fall, the Silverton City Council voted  to allow marijuana to be produced, grown, sold and dispensed within city limits. The council now must outline the rules for a grower, producer, retailer or dispenser.

Silverton Community Development Director Jason Gottgetreu said the city’s development code did not “previously address marijuana facilities as they were not allowed by law.” The council’s task, he said, is to develop rules so if a marijuana business owner wants to locate in town, there will be clear guidelines.

Silverton City Manager Bob Willoughby said months ago he received an application for a medical marijuana facility at the old Montessori preschool site on Jersey Street.

“That application is still pending,” Willoughby said on Jan. 7.  “To date, we have not been informed of any recreational marijuana applications by the OLCC.” Jan. 4 was the first day to apply for a license to sell recreational marajuana. While the council agrees with on much of the code outlined by the city staff, it is deliberating on whether a marijuana grow site can be located on land zoned industrial. Under current code, it is prohibited.

At the council’s Jan. 4 meeting more than three hours of testimony from a dozen residents was presented. They did not want the code changed.

Gottgetreu outlined their issues with locating a marijuana grow site in the Industrial Park off Hobart Road. Concerns included barb wire fencing; odor; impact on quality of life for nearby neighborhoods; worries about security and crime; pesticides or herbicides that might be used; impact on wetlands and habitat; and buffering and screening exemptions.

Since the first reading of the ordinance did not receive a unanimous vote, it will come back for second reading at the Feb. 1 council meeting. The second reading does not require a unanimous vote for passage. If approved, the city development code and zoning map will be amended to regulate marijuana production, processing and sales.

Councilors Laurie Carter, Jason Freilinger, Kyle Palmer and Dana Smith voted for the ordinance. Councilors Ken Hector, Jim Sears and Mayor Rick Lewis voted against.

On Facebook, Freilinger wrote if the council does not take action “we will miss the chance to welcome this industry.” He supports “responsible regulated development…”

He believes there will be a financial benefit to the city with new jobs and tax revenue. He also sees it as an opportunity since other jurisdictions – including Mount Angel and Marion County, currently prohibit marijuana facilities and are asking voters to decide the issue locally in November.

Willoughby said last fall that it is not clear how much tax revenue the city will receive from marijuana sales. He also could not project how much monitoring and any additional enforcement will cost the Silverton Police Department.

Hector said the proposal to locate agriculture in an industrial park is “fundamentally flawed.” He noted there has been a great deal of work done to bring businesses to the industrial park, including the recent relocation of Willamette Valley Fruit Co.

Jeff Roth of WVFC spoke against having a marijuana grow facility in the industrial park. He submitted a letter stating his company understands the need to bring new business to the park, and he believes it is poised to grow and contribute to the economic life and civic vitality of Silverton. “However, we believe that allowing marijuana grow and processing facilities to be established in the Industrial Park will actually hinder and hurt that prospect, rather than help.”

The company has discussed a retail outlet for its products, he said, “but our clientele may not be drawn to an area where marijuana production is occuring.”


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