Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session

Minutes
Tuesday, August 25, 2015

 
ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
STUDY SESSION
 MINUTES
August 25, 2015
 
 
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Melanie Mindlin called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.
 
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Debbie Miller
Troy J. Brown, Jr.
Michael Dawkins
Melanie Mindlin
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
     
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
None   Greg Lemhouse, absent
 
 
ANNOUNCEMENTS & AD HOC COMMITTEE UPDATES
Community Development Director Bill Molnar reminded the group of the commissioner appreciation event August 30 at Oak Knoll Golf Course. He also announced the city council’s public hearing on the Normal Neighborhood Plan is Tuesday, September 1.
 
Commissioner Mindlin announced Toby Hemenway will be speaking on permaculture Wednesday, September 16 at Southern Oregon University.
 
Commissioner Dawkins provided an update on the Downtown Beautification Committee and stated they are working with a consultant designing three new welcome signs. Dawkins stated the drawings will be presented at the October Public Arts Commission meeting for review.
 
PUBLIC FORUM
No one came forward to speak.
 
DISCUSSION ITEMS
  1. Discussion of Ordinance Amendments for Recreational Marijuana.
Planning Manager Maria Harris explained the objectives of the ordinance are to: 1) balance the allowances for recreational and medical marijuana under the new state laws and mitigate the nuisance and safety impacts, and 2) streamline the code so it is easy to understand and enforceable. Ms. Harris stated the draft presented tonight is a starting point for discussion purposes and explained one of the main questions before the commission is how many plants can you grow outdoors before it creates a nuisance? The draft ordinance proposes a sliding scale with the maximum number of outdoor plants set at 8, and a total allowance of 12 (indoor and outdoor). Ms. Harris displayed several examples depicting the allowable grow areas on different sized lots and asked the commission to consider whether larger lots should be allowed to grow more, whether the proposed setbacks are sufficient, and whether 12 total plants is appropriate. Ms. Harris noted the state has adopted separate provisions for medical marijuana and recreational marijuana, but this ordinance is intended to cover both.
 
Ms. Harris commented on commercial operations, which will be licensed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. She explained the OLCC is accepting applications now; however they will not be issued until spring 2016. Regarding the draft ordinance, the following three questions were posed for the commission to consider: 1) Should processing and production be at least 200 ft. from residential zones, 2) Should marijuana production buildings be limited in size, and 3) Should the separation requirement for retail sites be included in the local ordinance?
 
Commission Discussion
The commissioners shared their comments on the draft ordinance, including:
 
Number of permitted plants:
  • Four plants is a lot of marijuana, both in terms of usage and smell. The city could keep the numbers low and still   allow for this change to occur.
  • The point of the law is to allow this for personal use and four plants should be ample. If they allow more than that they are recognizing the grow is going beyond the use of the homeowner.
  • A limit of four plants will keep the odor nuisance down.
  • The draft ordinance is overly lenient. The city should be stricter at the beginning since it would be difficult to make it more restrictive later on.
  • To keep it simple, the 4 plant limit should be regardless of size and should include starters and cuttings.
 
Indoor vs. Outdoor Growing:
  • If they drive this activity indoors, water and electrical use will be an issue.
  • The city should not allow indoor commercial growing since this could bump the city up to the next power usage tier.
  • Indoor plants should be allowed but only up to a certain size.
  • Growers can only harvest once a year. If residents want a continuous supply they will be more likely to grow their plants indoors.
 
Ms. Harris commented that there are a number of lots in the multifamily residential zone that are smaller than the examples shown. She added this may be one reason to allow some level of indoor growing.
 
Setbacks:
  • Residents should have to comply with the more aggressive setback requirements.
  • Grow sites should be located closer to the grower’s residence than the neighbor’s.
  • The ordinance should say the grow location cannot be closer to the neighbor’s house than it is your own.
  • They should mitigate the effects on neighbors by requiring a minimum setback but recommending they locate the plants as far away from the neighbors as possible.
  • If using an outdoor structure or greenhouse, the setbacks should be the same as an outdoor grow.
 
Commercial Growing:
  • Why would the city want this here?
  • If we are not allowing other agriculture uses in the city, commercial marijuana grows should not be allowed either.
  • Ms. Harris clarified if the city prohibits any of the uses they won’t get to keep the tax money that is collected. She also clarified before the state will issue a commercial license they are requiring paperwork that verifies the city’s approval and establishes parameters. 
  • It would be best to start out stricter and loosen up over time if necessary.  
  • 20,000 sq.ft is too large of a building.
  • The ordinance should indicate 10,000 sq.ft. as the maximum.
 
Other Comments:
  • The ordinance should be clearer that the grower needs to live there, not just that the house’s primary use is residential.
  • The ordinance language regarding retail sites should incorporate the same restrictions as medical marijuana dispensaries (distance from schools, distance from each other, and elimination from the downtown overlay).
  • The ordinance should refer to the house bill number.
  • “Ensure” should be removed from item F on page 16 of the ordinance.
  • Ms. Harris clarified there is the potential for a rate structure change that would charge a higher rate to customers who consume large amounts of power. She added this is still being discussed at the staff level.
Staff was directed to bring the ordinance back for a public hearing; no additional study session discussions are necessary.  
 
ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.
 
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

 

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