City Council is looking to repeal an ordinance for lack of need

The Sandy City Council is in the process of repealing an ordinance passed earlier this year requiring medical marijuana dispensaries to be located only on land zoned as industrial.

The city of Sandy has a moratorium on pot dispensaries in effect — allowed by state law — until May 1, 2015, as well as a citywide prohibition. City Attorney David Doughman said the council had expressed that it wants to regulate dispensaries only if absolutely necessary and that councilors would prefer to prohibit them altogether.

Ordinance 2014-01 was passed in February prior to a decision on Oregon Senate Bill 1531, which allows local governments to ban dispensaries, as a precaution should Sandy be required to allow the businesses into city limits.

Now, City Manager Seth Atkinson has recommended the ordinance be repealed because it now is unneeded.

“It seems that pursuing a defense of Ordinance 2014-01 at this time would not be a prudent use of taxpayer dollars,” Atkinson said. “Not only would this cease the (Land Use Board of Appeals) appeal process, but it would allow the city to pursue a more robust land use policy should the city be unable to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries.”

The city is in litigation with a medical marijuana dispensary that was denied a business license to operate within Sandy city limits.

Doughman is confident the city will prevail in court. He hopes that a decision will allow for communities statewide to ban the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries should they so choose.

The city also has an ordinance in effect — Ordinance 2014-07 — that allows for the denial of business licenses to marijuana dispensaries based on the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.

As for the ordinance that is being repealed, the council discussed the possibility of revising and readopting it later if it’s needed. For now, the moratorium renders the ordinance unnecessary.

“There’s no point in trying to fight this LUBA process,” said Mayor Bill King. “It’s not that the old one didn’t make sense, but maybe we reacted a little quickly.”

Matthew Nageli of Eagle Creek spoke at the City Council meeting to express his support for the repeal, but asked that no further regulations be placed on marijuana dispensaries wishing to operate in Sandy. Nageli said his dispensary business had been looking at a Sandy location because of its proximity to other mountain communities, calling it a hub of activity.

He disagreed with the decision to limit dispensaries to industrial land because it would put them “out of sight, out of mind” and could make them a target for unwanted criminal activity. The space he had chosen for a business was one block away from the Sandy Police Department and across the street from a 24-hour gas station.

“The way the city is laid out, there are only two places a dispensary could go in accordance with state law,” he said, trying to ease council fears that a dispensary would be placed on every corner.

Nageli said that if his business were allowed to operate, it would keep reasonable hours and use a surveillance system that could feed directly into the Sandy Police Department.

At the City Council meeting Monday, July 7, councilors passed the first reading of the new ordinance, but decided to postpone the second reading because Councilors Brian Adams and Grant Baker were absent. The ordinance will be revisited at the meeting Monday, July 21.

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