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Tualatin and Tigard are taking two very different approaches to regulating marijuana facilities.The clock is ticking for Tigard and Tualatin to make up their minds about how to deal with marijuana facilities opening in their towns.


Tigard and Tualatin — like several Washington County cities — banned marijuana facilities from opening last year while leaders worked to put regulations in place to handle the expected influx of businesses.

But while both cities’ bans on marijuana facilities are scheduled to expire in a few weeks, the two cities are taking wildly different approaches to how they plan to deal with the formerly illegal operations.

The cities’ moratoriums on marijuana dispensaries both end May 1. At that time, the cities can begin accepting applications from business owners hoping to set up shop within their borders.

Cities cannot ban dispensaries outright, but are allowed to make “reasonable” regulations on businesses, though Measure 91 — which made recreational marijuana use legal in the state starting in July — does not say what counts as a reasonable restriction.

That’s the question in Tualatin, where city councilors have said marijuana facilities will be sited only in manufacturing areas and can’t be located within 3,000 feet of any residential areas, schools, parks or libraries, and must also be no closer than 2,000 feet from any other marijuana facilities. Further, their buildings can’t be larger than 3,000 square feet.

Those restrictions would essentially ban marijuana facilities from much of Tualatin, except for a small patch of land near Tualatin’s Sherwood border.

That approach is far from unanimous, however, with strong opinions on either side.

“I think this is a backhanded way to enact a ban, which is not what people voted for,” said Councilor Ed Truax during a work session last month. “I think we need a more reasonable code more aligned with what people voted for.”

Several councilors have said that the 3,000-foot buffer is too extensive, though a first reading of the regulations passed the council last week. A final vote on Tualatin’s regulations is expected on Monday.

“I don’t fear the 3,000 feet at all,” said Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden during a February work session. “I wouldn’t be supportive of 2,000 feet. It’s too close to the residents.”

Tigard, however, couldn’t have taken a more different approach.

John Floyd, a Tigard city planner, said that Tigard wants to keep dispensaries front and center, both for the safety aspect and to make them convenient for people to access.

“(Planning Commissioners) had thought about restricting them to industrial zones, but that is not the most appropriate place for them,” Floyd said. “It’s out of the way, makes it difficult for those businesses to succeed, and people will have a hard time getting there.”

Instead, the Tigard City Council is considering a proposal that would see marijuana dispensaries setting up shop front and center along the city’s main artery, Pacific Highway, as well as on Main Street.

Under the currently proposed plans, dispensaries would be limited to those areas, could not be located within 500 feet of a park or with 1,000 feet of schools.

When all is said and done, Tigard could have as many as 10 marijuana retail shops within its borders.

By limiting the retail facilities to Pacific Highway, Floyd said, Tigard Police and residents will be able to keep an eye on traf fic in and out of the businesses. That makes the whole operation safer, since most dispensaries are cash-only, making them susceptible to break-ins, Floyd said.

“These are two streets where a number of potential operators have said that they wanted to be,” he said.

Floyd said that about a dozen people have expressed an interest in opening on Main Street alone.

Non-retail facilities, such as grow operations, are free to open across the city, but must be sited no closer than 1,000 feet from schools and 500 feet from parks and residential zones.

The Tigard City Council won’t make a final decision until April.

Reporter Caitlin Feldman contributed to this article.


By Geoff Pursinger
Reporter
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