The Pendleton City Council will discuss a marijuana-related issue at its meeting Tuesday, but not the one that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries in city limits.
The council will consider amending the city’s nuisance ordinance that would prohibit marijuana odors from leaving private property. A law that would create a special business license for dispensaries isn’t on the agenda.
Although a moratorium banning medical marijuana dispensaries expired May 1, city officials have said Pendleton’s licensing laws prohibit any business from opening that is in violation of federal law, which effectively keeps the ban in place.
City Planner Evan MacKenzie presented a model ordinance written by the League of Oregon Cities at the council meeting that grants a special business license to dispensaries. He said the model was for discussion purposes and city staff would use the council’s feedback to craft a more customized law.
Councilors suggested city staff look into stricter signage requirements, background checks into all employees working at dispensaries and a THC level test for product being sold.
City Manager Robb Corbett said staff are still working toward incorporating the council’s suggestion into a more comprehensive ordinance and expects a draft to be ready by the council’s June 2 meeting.
In the meantime, the council will render a decision about a city law that would ban marijuana odor from emanating beyond a person’s property.
In a report to the city council, City Attorney Nancy Kerns wrote the amendment is coming at the request of the Pendleton Police Department, which has received complaints from residents about the smell of drying marijuana.
Another provision that could be added to the nuisance ordinance is one requiring all marijuana be kept out of public view.
“For purposes of public safety it is recommended that a screening provision also be approved,” Kerns wrote. “Being able to see growing marijuana from a public place or from neighboring properties invites offense to some, vandalism, trespassing and the like.”
After a year of inaction, marijuana issues have become a regular item on the agenda.
Last month the council amended the city’s development code to allow dispensaries in service commercial and central mixed use zones, as long as they are not within 1,000 feet of a school, park or another dispensary.
Outside of marijuana discussion, the meeting will mark the first reading for the adoption of master plans for water, sewer and storm water drainage utility systems.
Over the next 10 years, a city consultant estimated Pendleton would need to spend $56.9 million to replace, maintain and add to the town’s water and sewer infrastructure.
In order to pay for the improvements, the firm suggested doubling water rates, raising sewer rates by 57 percent and creating a systems development cost — a fee assessed to new developments.
The stormwater utility, a first for Pendleton, would cover the costs of improving, operating and maintaining the city-owned levees and the city’s stormwater drainage system.
For the first five years, the firm suggested charging a flat rate of $7.25 to help cover the $7.5 million cost of improving the stormwater system.
The consultants recommended a portion of these new revenue streams be used to hire 11.5 new utility workers.
Although the city plans to adopt the utility master plans at the June 2 council meeting, officials have said any rate hikes or charges would be decided upon at a later date.
The Pendleton City Council will meet at 7 p.m. at the council chambers in city hall, 500 S.W. Dorion Ave.
Contact Antonio Sierra at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0836.