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HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

The council and pot: Groundhog Day

Written November 14th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
Albany City Hall, where recreational pot regulations are still a hot topic.

Albany City Hall, where recreational pot regulations are still a hot topic.

The Albany City Council went round and round for a couple of hours Monday on the issue of regulating recreational marijuana sites. In the end the ordinance under discussion failed to advance, but the council will try again next month.

City voters have overturned the council’s ban on recreational pot commerce. But the ordinance in question would ban recreational marijuana operations including retail within 300 feet or residential and several other zoning districts. The city staff says the ordinance might not stand up in court because it may be found overly restrictive.

The ordinance failed on a 3-2 vote. Any council action takes four votes. Councilor Dick Olsen, an opponent, was absent, which prevented a 3-3 deadlock that would have resulted in Mayor Sharon Konopa breaking tie and passing the measure. Councilors Ray Kopczynski and Bill Coburn voted no. Rich Kellum, Bessie Johnson and Floyd Collins voted yes.

Collins anticipated that the yes votes would come up short. He moved to adopt the ordinance anyway, with the understanding that when it failed it would come up again, in amended form, at the council’s scheduled meetings Dec. 5 and 7. Among the amendments would be one grandfathering any existing medical marijuana dispensaries so they would not be affected by the proposed stricter definition of the 300-foot limit.

Konopa said again she wants to keep marijuana operations out of neighborhoods, including commercially zoned areas near where people live. Coburn wondered why the city needed an ordinance like this, considering all the state regulations on recreational pot. He had visited several retail shops in other cities and found them “professional and clean.”

Ross Day, a Portland lawyer representing Oregon Cannabis Co., a dispensary on Santiam Highway S.E., challenged the proposed ordinance on several points, among them that the council had failed to handle it like the land use matter he says it is. If it passes, Day pledged to appeal to the Land Use Board of Appeals.

With the proposed ordinance dead for now, existing city law says recreational pot retailers can go wherever medical pot dispensaries are allowed. Existing law has a looser definition of how 300 feet are measured. It also has an exception from the 300-foot exclusion zone for outfits in industrial zones.

The council has been debating marijuana since 2014. December will be Collins’ last month on the council, as he didn’t seek re-election. He says he wants to see issue settled before he leaves. Fat chance, but good luck! (hh)



15 responses to “The council and pot: Groundhog Day”

  1. centrist says:

    Council —
    The horse is dead. The people have voted. A senior entity has the rules in place
    Move on

  2. John Hartman says:

    The Albany City Council seems determined to stall and delay the will of the very people who put them in place. Kellum, Johnson and the mayor appear intent on ignoring the very folks who grant them their power. It’s as though they exist in a Sitcom Universe…Albany, a swell small town sans anything that might stir up what they perceive to be trouble. When one watches their performance all that comes to mind is Aunt Bea and Barney Fife attempting to drag Mayberry into the past.

    The stalling, the delaying, the pretense and faux anguish over Albany’s moral future demonstrated by some of Albany’s elected leadership will only fuel voter discontent. The Council would expect Albany citizens to follow the law, yet the Council seems content to twiddle their thumbs when the issue is not one of their liking.

    The Mayor has assured us that Council wants only to limit recreational outlets to the same locales as where so-called Adult Entertainment businesses are limited to. Apparently the Council believes out of sight is out of mind. If that is true, then simply pass the necessary statutory language and let the people of Albany get on with it. The childish petulance currently on display at City Hall is juvenile.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “…then simply pass the necessary statutory language…”

      Therein lies the problem. What you may think is “simple,” obviously is not. It requires 4 votes. We’re not there yet, but we are closer in that now we’re literally back to square one. We looked over the edge of the cliff and had second thoughts — at least until Dec. 5th…

      • John Hartman says:

        Based on the Council’s recalcitrance, this song and dance is starting to resemble the Grand Stall. Is the council going to force the citizens of Albany to vote a third time? These childish City Council machinations, this pretense of getting something done, is doing nothing to improve anybody’s opinion of council performance. One wonders how much more lopsided the vote would have to be before the Council would actually listen and then act according to the wishes of the people.

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          Please understand… There WILL be stores. That has overwhelmingly been decided by overturning the ban. Our current machinations have *nothing* to do with whether or not we will have recreational stores or sales. The issue before us is where those may be. We have very serious differences of opinion in that regard…

  3. James Engel says:

    Took the time to sit thru the proceedings. An interesting exercise in the human method of moving air back-n-forth across their teeth. On an annoying point, what is the use of the microphones in front of each member if they sit back from them & hem-n-haw in low tones making it difficult to hear them?? Kidd (City attorney) was the only one who properly addressed the microphone so he could be heard. JE

  4. hj.anony1 says:

    Please, please council let us move past this and get on to the bigger themes?

    For example, how you are going to apply this mountain of sin tax cash! <–tongue firmly planted in cheek.

  5. ean says:

    The mayor seems worried about increased police costs? Have other cities that have started selling recreational pot seen an increase in police costs? It doesn’t really seem like something that will increase costs.

    • John Hartman says:

      The 3% local sales tax on rec. weed will pay for more cops, if that is a real concern. One doubts it is. The mayor can call Corvallis and ask them.

  6. tom cordier says:

    to ean:: you need to do your homework. Learn from Colorado. Police costs go up, hospital costs go up, mental health oversight costs go up, suicide rates go up. school cost go up. Auto collision costs go up. why :because stupid people do stupid things.

    • Justin says:

      Do you have some sources for these claims?

      And guess what – Oregon already legalized weed. It’s done. Making it harder to open up stores in Albany will do nothing for any problems you are talking about. People will just drive to Corvallis.

    • ean says:

      Got any links to any credible studies on this? Crashes are up nationwide due to increased cell phone usage. Any studies would have to be corrected for this. Just because you say something doesn’t make it true. You tell me I need to do my homework, which is correct, I could read up on this more. But I am not speaking in the definitive, you are the one speaking in the definitive, lets see what info you are basing that on. Maybe you are just substituting you opinions for facts though, that seems all too common these days.

    • John Hartman says:

      And we are supposed to believe this laundry list of alleged “facts” is true because you say so without any evidence. We hadn’t realized that you’d made such an in-depth study of the Colorado situation. After reading your text, it seems clear you have not done your homework other than perhaps reading a headline or two on the Breirbart or Drudge web site.

  7. thomas cordier says:

    see above:: “flat earthers” definition now includes deniers of bad outcomes of mj use !

 

 
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