Pendleton Planning Commission modifies pot grow proposal

A revised proposal from the city would require all marijuana grows larger than four plants be moved indoors.

PENDLETON — The Pendleton Planning Commission revised a draft amendment to the city’s zoning code at a meeting Thursday, potentially allowing residents to continue growing their own marijuana as long as they don’t go beyond four plants.

The commission made the changes after hearing from Brandon Krenzler, the co-owner of the Kind Leaf Pendleton marijuana dispensary, who testified against a proposal that requires all marijuana grows are located indoors in a solid walled structure.

In a previous interview, City Planner George Cress said the new proposal was added because the city has received complaints from residents that neighboring marijuana grows were producing an objectionable smell.

Krenzler said forcing marijuana growers indoors could lead to safety hazards when amateur growers try to hook up their own lighting and filtration systems without the requisite electrical experience.

But he also said four marijuana plants, the maximum allowed for personal use under recreational laws, shouldn’t produce a smell beyond a backyard.

“Four plants, you might smell on the edge of a property line,” he said. “Maybe on a really windy day, you’ll catch a whiff of it. But four plants does not produce that large of an odor that a neighborhood or a city should be concerned about.”

Krenzler said he’s a vegetarian and doesn’t find the smell of cooked meat enjoyable, but he doesn’t complain to authorities when a neighbor fires up the barbecue.

Krenzler did warn against large-scale medical growers, who can grow dozens of plants if they’re growing on behalf of registered patients.

Pendleton resident Alan Feves also spoke out against the proposal.

“I think voters wanted regulations for marijuana,” he said. “They wanted the ability to grow it themselves. I think this gets in the way of that. It pretty much shuts it down.”

After the public hearing closed, various members of the commission said they couldn’t remember including the indoor grow requirement in the meetings where they workshopped the draft.

The proposed amendment does a number of other things, including formally banning marijuana businesses in residential zones and consolidating all cannabis-related language into one section.

Commission President Ryan DeGrofft suggested new language that states that any cultivation of more than four plants must be grown indoors, and the rest of the commission agreed.

Grows of four plants or less still must confine their odors to the owners’ property and be obscured from public view.

Even though Krenzler seemed pleased with the new language, there were still some lingering concerns about the potential for marijuana smell.

The board chairman for Cason’s Place Peer to Peer Grief Counseling, Matt Terjeson, told the commission he recently found out that a marijuana business was opening nearby and expressed concern on how it would affect a nonprofit that’s frequented by children.

Terjeson was referring to Thur’s Smoke Shop on 1616 S.E. Court Ave., which obtained a conditional use permit in 2017 but is not operational, although Lora Elliott, a permit tech for the planning department, said the city recently issued a certificate of occupancy to Thur’s owner.

Rather than approve the revisions on Friday, the commission unanimously voted to continue the public hearing to their next meeting in September to approve an officially revised draft.

The commission will then forward its recommendation to the Pendleton City Council, who could potentially make their own changes to the draft.

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