Nine months after the St. Helens City Council voted to approve a sale agreement with a marijuana producer to purchase city-owned property, the agreement has yet to be finalized. Further, the city has yet to receive lease payments after renting to the marijuana producer for more than two years.
City Administrator John Walsh said the City Council has reviewed a draft sale agreement and legal counsel for ACSP LLC, the company slated to purchase the property, is now reviewing the document.
Walsh said he anticipates it will be ready to sign within the next month or so.
Last November, the council voted 3 to 0, with Councilor Keith Locke abstaining, to approve a sale agreement to sell 8.21 acres to ACSP for "no less than $3.48 million," a draft copy of the agreement obtained in 2018 stated. The sale agreement was intended to be a conversion of a lease agreement signed in June 2017, but after a series of setbacks, the final sale document has not been formalized.
While Walsh noted that the company "has been committed to making lease payments" during their occupancy of the site and establishment of their business, a public records request made to the city in early August indicated that the city has received no lease payments, property purchase payments, or community benefit fees or "public education, safety and parks fee" donations as outlined in the lease and draft sale agreement from the ACSP or ORGROTECH LLC as of Aug. 7.
ACSP is registered to Alex Reverman, according to Oregon Secretary of State documents.
Reverman also has a second limited liability company registered to his name for a business called ORGROTECH, which has an active marijuana recreational producer license from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
Both companies have their names published on signage that directs traffic to their indoor marijuana production business, which is currently operational on Kaster Road in St. Helens.
Finalizing the sale agreement has been complicated by a number of factors, including the city needing to find new legal counsel after its previous city attorney didn't complete needed paperwork earlier this year, Mayor Rick Scholl explained.
In June 2017, the City Council approved a lease agreement with ACSP, a holding company for the marijuana grow facility, to lease 9.5 acres of city-owned property on the former Boise Inc. paper mill property on Kaster Road. The size of the parcel was later reduced, and an appraisal on the property valued the land at $1.55 million.
ACSP was under a lease agreement starting that June, but the original lease indicated that ACSP would not need to make payments for at least 10 months. The rent-free period was then extended until at least November 2018 after a series of setbacks proved it to be difficult to establish electricity and other utilities at the site, a city official and council member explained last year.
The sale itself was also challenged by a lawsuit last August by St. Helens attorneys Robert VanNatta and Agnes Petersen, who argued the city did not follow proper procedures to advertise the property sale. That lawsuit was dismissed in Columbia County Circuit Court in December.
Most recently, Walsh noted that ACSP is still operating under the lease agreement since the sale agreement has not been finalized. The signing of the sale agreement is what terminates the lease, he explained.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.