Tualatin approves marijuana sales in commercial areas
Tualatin has loosened its regulations on where marijuana-related facilities can open, opening the doors to shops and dispensaries in commercial areas.
In a 5-2 vote on Nov. 9, the Tualatin City Council expanded the city's development code to allow marijuana facilities in locations other than the city's industrial zones.
In effect, the decision allows retail marijuana and medical marijuana sales in commercial zones of the city. Facilities that involve marijuana growing operations will only be allowed in manufacturing zones, however.
In addition, the council approved reducing the distance between all marijuana facilities from a current city requirement of 3,000 feet from residences, parks, schools and libraries, to a far less restrictive 1,000 feet. The required "buffer" between facilities was halved, from 2,000 feet to 1,000 feet.
Up until now, marijuana facilities could only locate in Tualatin's industrial zones, specifically in the western portion of the city around Ancestry Brewing, which is located on Southwest 115th Avenue.
Currently, there are no marijuana-related businesses in the city.
While some on the council argued the change was long overdue — Tualatin has had some of the most restrictive siting policies for marijuana shops in the region, which were engineered by a more conservative council under former Mayor Lou Ogden in 2015 — the decision didn't come without debate among council members.
Some of that debate centered around a suggestion to exclude properties east and west of Interstate 5 at Southwest Lower Boones Ferry Road, specifically the Bridgeport Village shopping complex side on the west side of I-5.
Bill Beers chairs the city planning commission. He said some commissioners had asked for a so-called exclusion zone for Bridgeport Village because it's one of the gateways into Tualatin. That recommendation also included both prohibiting marijuana facilities within 2,000 feet of I-5, including north of Southwest Nyberg Road.
For some members of the planning commission, Beers advised the council, "There's a perception of having that style of business or something like a 'Jigglesque' thing right at the entrance of the town is not something they wanted."
Jiggles was a strip club that overlooked I-5 just off of Nyberg Road. It was torn down in 2014 to make room for the Nyberg Rivers shopping complex, where Cabela's is located.
However, Councilor María Reyes asked if the commission had similar concerns about another strip club, Stars Cabaret, that is visible from I-5 at Lower Boones Ferry Road. Beers said the commission did not discuss the business located on the east side of the highway.
"We're trying to protect our appearance, but we have something there that's already looked upon (negatively)," said Reyes. "So, they're OK to see something that says 'Stars,' but then it's not OK to see something … that says 'cannabis?'"
While Reyes voted in favor of the zoning change, Councilor Nancy Grimes voted against it.
Grimes said she found the amount of public feedback on the matter to be "very compelling." The public interest, she noted, is "greater than anything else that we've ever received for any project we've worked on since I've been on council."
Grimes instead suggested banning marijuana businesses from the Bridgeport Village area but increasing the zoned industrial area where they could locate.
According to Councilor Paul Morrison, the council received 30 emails and heard public testimony from about 15 people in opposition to changing the current zoning rules.
"So we have a really good sense that there's a lot of people who are not happy with looking at this (code change)," said Morrison, who also voted against the change.
He pointed out that Sherwood voters recently approved allowing the sale of recreational marijuana in the city, but only in industrial areas, similar to Tualatin's restrictions.
Tualatin Mayor Frank Bubenik, who favored the zoning change, predicted it may lead to Tualatin getting just one or two marijuana shops. As in the rest of the state, minors will not be allowed inside.
"I do not see our city overrun by pot shops, as people put it, like the city of Portland," Bubenik said. "Our distance buffers are pretty big and very specific on where they can be, and we're going to be sure these do not locate near where children congregate."
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