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As cities around the state continue to wrangle specific ordinance and policy language regarding recreational marijuana, Hillsboro’s city council has indicated it prefers to take a more conservative approach.

At a work session following Tuesday night’s council meeting, Senior Project Manager Debbie Raber and Planning Director Colin Cooper asked councilors for direction as city staff begins to draft the initial policies that will guide recreational marijuana regulations into the coming year.

Citing codes adopted by the city of Salem and Clackamas County, Raber showed the council — sans Mayor Jerry Willey, who was excused — how other municipalities have written their policies.

According to Raber, the language about how to mitigate pot-odor issues used in Salem is less specific than that used in Clackamas County, which is detailed to the extreme.

Proposed provisions in Hillsboro for marijuana wholesalers and testing laboratories, as well as for production and processing facilities, only requires an HVAC system to help prevent potentially offensive marijuana aromas from drifting into neighboring businesses’ air space.

But what isn’t spelled out is how those HVAC systems are used, where they’re located, when they must be kept on and how they should be managed.

Because they’re considered industrial-type businesses, recreational pot outlets would be located only in industrial park areas, said Raber.

But after councilor Rick Van Beveren laid out several possible problems that could come from turning prime north Hillsboro real estate into a marijuana-production sector, other council members — with the exception of councilors Kyle Allen and Fred Nachtigal — said they preferred to keep marijuana processing and production away from the newly-zoned industrial sanctuary area.

“If the businesses pay their taxes, I don’t think they shouldn’t be allowed,” Allen said.

Nachtigal agreed. “It might be good to see something besides computer chips being produced in Hillsboro,” he said.

But what Raber and Cooper took away from the meeting was the council’s overall preference to consider the large industrial area west of Northeast Brookwood Parkway and north of Northwest Evergreen Road as an exclusion area, disallowing the construction of recreational pot facilities.

At least one councilor, Darell Lumaco, would rather not see any marijuana production in the city at all. Yet several councilors, and even Raber, indicated they would be in favor of taking an aggressively restrictive approach out the gate, and then relax it over time.

“Let’s keep the genie in the bottle,” Raber said, “and let it out little by little as we learn more.”

But Raber added that what she has witnessed during her visits to other marijuana manufacturing facilities around Oregon and Washington is not what may have occurred 30 or 40 years ago.

“This is not the cannabis many of us at this table were exposed to in college,” Raber said. “This is an industry, and in this state an above-board industry.”

Things the council did agree on were restrictions on buffer zones between marijuana facilities (1,000 feet), between marijuana facilities and residential zones (100 feet), and the allowance of retail in commercial zones (excluding downtown and mixed use, such as the Orenco building or 4thMain).

What city staff ultimately brings back for the council to vote on won’t be known until the Jan. 13 city council meeting. In the meantime, members of the public will have another opportunity to share their thoughts with the council and city staff at a public hearing on Dec. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Shirley Huffman Auditorium at the city’s Civic Center, 150 E. Main St.

Also, any written comments can be directed to Raber at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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