Tualatin to take another look at marijuana buffer zones
The Tualatin City Council has agreed to revisit an ordinance that currently prohibits marijuana shops from locating within 3,000 feet of schools, parks and libraries throughout the city.
The agreement was reached at a Monday night, Feb. 10, work session. Five council members, a majority of the seven-member body, said they wanted to discuss changing the current zoning buffers for marijuana businesses, according to Mayor Frank Bubenik.
When Tualatin first adopted the regulations in 2015, opponents — including Bubenik — made no secret of how they interpreted its intent: to block marijuana shops, then recently legalized by Oregon voters, from moving into all but the most remote parts of Tualatin. The regulations passed on a 4-3 vote, with then-Mayor Lou Ogden leading the effort to adopt them.
Re-opening the books now could lead to the City Council changing Tualatin's current ordinance, which limits marijuana-related industries from locating 3,000 feet from schools, parks and libraries, to a more typical 1,000 feet.
But Bubenik cautioned that nothing has been decided yet, other than that the council is willing to talk about it.
"We're not going to implement anything yet," Bubenik said Tuesday, Feb. 11. "Staff's going to come back with what has to be changed, what the process is. … We also want to have some public outreach, because we're getting all these emails from people pro and con, so (we're) thinking of a public open house, a listening session or something like that — maybe have it go out to the CIOs because the CIO meetings are in April of this year," he added, referring to Tualatin's Citizen Involvement Organizations, which are its equivalent of neighborhood associations.
Bubenik said he wanted to get maximum community input on the issue before another work session on the issue — no formal votes or decisions can be made in work sessions — will be held in the future.
At the moment, there are no marijuana dispensaries located in Tualatin city limits. An estimated 472 acres of property in the city is potentially open to marijuana-related business, but because of the city's 3,000-foot rule, all of it is in industrial zones, away from the majority of retail ventures.
The council began discussing possible buffer zone changes in October, with both those for and against testifying during a work session. Some argued that vaping is epidemic among Oregonian youth and letting marijuana businesses into Tualatin would make it worse, while at least one proponent countered that cities that regulate marijuana are able to slow down unregulated and "unsafe" black market sales.
Tualatin adopted its marijuana regulations in 2015. Voters later approved a 3% tax on sales collected by any future marijuana dispensary.
Both Beaverton and Tigard allow medical and recreational facilities in their cities.
Sherwood, Tualatin's neighbor to the west, allows medical marijuana facilities, but residents have twice voted to keep recreational dispensaries out of city limits.
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.