New industry: Not weed but hemp

The warehouse at 250 Queen Ave. as seen through the rain on Friday afternoon.

Here's a new element in the mix of Albany's industries: The production and processing of seeds of industrial hemp.

On Thursday the Albany Planning Division posted a public notice that it had received an application to review the site plan of a new use for a 10,000-square-foot warehouse at 250 Queen Ave. S.W. According to the city, the building would accommodate hemp seed production, processing and storage.

The applicant is Seth Crawford, one of two brothers who run a hemp seed business out of Corvallis. Both are graduates of Oregon State University. They explain their background and the details of their business on their website, and you can look it up here.

Hemp is a variety of cannabis sativa, the plant species that also includes marijuana. But hemp has much lower concentrations of THC, the psychoactive substance that makes marijuana interesting to its fans. The Oregon legislature authorized the growing of industrial hemp about seven or eight years ago. The state Department of Agriculture regulates the crop, which has any number of uses for industrial products and even food.

A floor plan included with the application shows most of the interior of the building designated as grow areas, with a smaller section set aside for processing. The application says the business would use about 300 gallons of water per day. Staffing the place would be one employee at any one time and, on occasion, up to three. Outside, landscaping with drought-tolerant plans will be provided when the weather allows.

The site is zoned for light industry and is surrounded by industrial properties. Review and approval of the site plan will be handled by the planning staff. No hearing is required.

According to the Linn County tax department, the property is owned by someone who lives in California. In 2014 the property became tax exempt as a distribution warehouse for Teen Challenge. The owner last paid property taxes on the site in 2013, when the bill was about $8,900.

The new use will, presumably, return the property to the taxable rolls. (hh)



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