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Newest Oregon City dispensary will join eight others already within 2-mile radius

This will be the last year you can get Christmas trees at 1101 Molalla Ave., Oregon City, as the annual seasonal business makes way for next year's planned construction of a building that will house a marijuana dispensary.

PHOTO BY RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - A staff member at the Christmas tree lot on Molalla Avenue helps a customer tie a tree to a car in Oregon City.Clackamas County currently has 24 dispensaries, and the planned building would become Oregon City's ninth pot shop. The proposal would mark the first time in the county that a building has been specifically constructed for a dispensary.

Fred and Muriel Pagel have been growing and selling Christmas trees in the area for over 25 years. After setting up at King Road and Linwood Avenue, they moved to Justy's Produce on Lake Road just east of Milwaukie.

The Pagels relocated to Molalla Avenue four years ago and now are looking to relocate again to make way for the building planned for the vacant lot. They are not sure whether they'll be able to find another suitable location nearby.

Several people buying Christmas trees from the 14,375-square-foot lot this year said they were surprised about the news, given the number of marijuana dispensaries that Oregon City already has.

According to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, there are eight dispensaries already in Oregon City within a 2-mile radius from the Molalla Avenue property. Oregon City's population is around 35,000, and the two cities in the state with populations closest to Oregon City (McMinnville and Grants Pass) each have six dispensaries.

Recreational marijuana was legalized by Oregon voters 2014. In the November 2016 election, Oregon City voters rejected the City Commission's decision to enact a temporary ban on marijuana sales within city limits and authorized the city to collect a 3 percent pot sales tax.

Documents submitted to the city indicate Andrew D. McNee of Beaverton is applying to run the Canna Factory marijuana dispensary on the property managed by Samson Cheung of Portland. According to city officials, the proposal received approval from Oregon City's Planning Division Aug. 1 and the project is currently in the Development Services and Building Division review processes.

McNee has already obtained a city business license for Canna Factory. Documents submitted to the city indicate that Canna Factory is obtaining OLCC retail licensing.

Oregon City's Melvyn and Wendy Haldors purchased the property for $117,142 in 2007, according to Clackamas County's Department of Assessment and Taxation, which estimates the land now is worth about $272,000.

Developers of the project propose to construct a 3,800-square-foot single-story retail building for the one tenant, Canna Factory. The building construction is estimated to cost $591,000, including 13 off-street and seven on-street parking spaces, landscaping with street trees and required sidewalks.

"The building will be finished with a combination of brick masonry and stucco. ... A specific loading area is not shown because of the nature of the business," they wrote in the application. "Deliveries will be by van-sized vehicles only and use parking spaces."

McNee and Cheung did not respond to requests for further comment about the proposal.

"Fresh trees for less" is the motto of the Pagels' small farm near Estacada, which strives to "bring the forest to you." The Pagels say they see the beauty of the Christmas holiday season in so many faces and think of the people who will enjoy the tree lights, ornaments and fresh tree scent. 

"So many funny stories, like the tall man — who brought his little 3-year-old with a pacifier in her mouth — and said his artificial tree from China really smelled bad," Muriel Pagel said. "He needed a fresh noble fir for under $60."

The thing that the Pagels especially enjoy is seeing customers year after year. They always try to find the right tree for the right space, from tabletops and apartment trees to 12-footers. 

"After the right choice, you can always get a fresh cut so the tree will drink water," Pagel said.

The Pagels then offer a hand tying the tree on your car. They say they'll continue selling trees on Molalla Avenue until Dec. 24 or until they run out of trees. They appreciate the support of their customers and encourage them to search Pagel Trees in late 2019 when they will set up a Facebook account to announce a new location.

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