MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
April 1, 2014
1175 E. Main Street
Ms. Seltzer clarified the City contracted with the Parks and Recreation Department for maintaining the landscaping at parking lots, medians, and planter boxes in the downtown.
Councilor Marsh/Slattery m/s to approve the recommendation by the Downtown Beautification and Improvement ad hoc Committee. DISCUSSION: Councilor Marsh thought the projects were good and commended the Committee for how quickly they put the recommendation together.
Councilor Voisin motioned to amend the motion that the Parks and Recreation Department was not responsible for parking lot weed abatement regarding landscaping City parking lots and the City is responsible for that and it be paid for out of the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) funds. Motion denied for lack of a second.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Slattery, Morris, Rosenthal and Marsh, YES; Councilor Voisin, NO. Motion passed 4-1.
2. Appointment to Citizen Budget Committee
City Recorder Barbara Christensen requested direction from the Council regarding the lack of applications to fill the vacant position on the Citizen Budget Committee. Council discussed waiting to advertise the vacancy in October when recruitment normally occurred. Mayor Stromberg would address the need for volunteers at the next Town Hall Meeting.
3. Direction to Housing and Human Services Commission regarding students as a protected class in the Fair Housing ordinance
Kathie Kennedy/132 Greenway Circle, Medford OR/Owned residential properties in Ashland and acknowledged students were concerned regarding renting. It was important that students follow the standards other renters followed. To presume students as a protected class was extreme. Federal level defined protected classes.
Councilor Slattery/Marsh to direct Housing and Human Services Commission to study and develop a recommendation on whether students should be added as a protected class in the City’s Fair Housing ordinance. DISCUSSION: Councilor Slattery clarified the Commission did not need to make students a protected class but possibly come back with something that might protect them better. Councilor Marsh requested the Commission discuss why property owners reject students and what students could do to increase their desirability as tenants and whether there were any unintended consequences to the proposed policy. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Second Reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance modifying the Verde Village Subdivision’s Development Agreement to clarify project phasing and make clear which improvements are required with each phase and to allow either phase to occur first; to change the energy efficiency requirements for the development so that all units will be constructed to at least Earth Advantage Gold standards and will be photovoltaic ready; and to change the landscaping requirements associated with construction of the multi-use path”
Council declared no Exparte contact.
Councilor Rosenthal/Morris m/s to approve Ordinance #3092. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Marsh, Voisin, Rosenthal, Slattery, and Morris, YES. Motion passed.
Councilor Morris/Rosenthal m/s to approve adoption of findings for Planning Action #2004-00052.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Marsh, Voisin, Rosenthal, Slattery, and Morris, YES. Motion passed.
2. First Reading of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance imposing a temporary moratorium on establishment of medical marijuana facilities in the City of Ashland, and declaring an emergency”
Councilor Voisin/Rosenthal m/s to place on the agenda a discussion the Council consider directing staff to develop a proposal to tax marijuana dispensaries, production, retail and more.
Voice Vote: Councilor Voisin, Morris, Rosenthal, and Marsh, YES; Councilor Slattery, NO. Motion passed 4-1.
City Attorney Dave Lohman explained the full moratorium would allow the City to review regulation parameters. A limited moratorium would only affect a portion of the city. Another option was a time, manner, or place ordinance that might be deemed as regulatory taking. The full moratorium would be retroactive to March 1, 2014 and end May 1, 2015. Council confirmed the moratorium was not abolishing dispensaries. Mr. Lohman clarified the City could regulate or ban dispensaries or rescind the ordinance during the moratorium.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained the Planning Commission initially discussed the issue and the earliest it would go on to an agenda was May, followed by a public hearing, then to Council with first and second reading on the proposed ordinance. Mr. Lohman clarified Council could adopt a land use ordinance with an emergency clause. Mr. Molnar further explained the Commission wanted to review a map of properties zoned E-1 within 100 feet of residential areas to determine the number of properties possibly impacted. They wanted to see the effects of a 100-foot buffer from significant spots likely frequented by minors. The Planning Commission also discussed hours of operation and whether the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) process would be an effective tool.
City Administrator Dave Kanner submitted a Dispensary Discussion Map into the record based on the Planning Commission discussion that depicted E-1 properties within 100 feet of a residential zone, C-1 and M-1 that would allow dispensaries, 1,000-foot buffers from schools, and the overlay zone.
William Clary/460 Williamson Way/Requested a temporary limited moratorium specifically for E-1 zones. It would provide the time needed by the Council and the Planning Commission to determine reasonable zones, rules, and restrictions that would maintain the integrity of neighborhoods like the Williamson Way area. He was not opposed to medical marijuana dispensaries. His main concern was the traffic it would bring to the neighborhood.
Michael Welch/1908 Ashland Street/Explained he owned Puff’s and Siskiyou Medical Supply. He agreed with a temporary limited moratorium and acknowledged dispensaries were contentious businesses. Due to moratoriums throughout the state however, Puff’s was the only legal operating dispensary between Eugene to the California border and the demand was difficult to manage. He offered Council information on traffic and pedestrian flow pertaining to his dispensary.
Councilor Voisin/Rosenthal motion to suspend rules to ask a question of Mr. Welch. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Mr. Welch explained that according to the Dispensary Discussion Map, his business was E-1 but he believed it was actually C-1. Mayor Stromberg reinstated Council rules.
Alan Ives/465 Williamson Way/Supported a temporary limited moratorium. The proposed location on Williamson Way abutted an E-1 zone and was directly across from residences with children. Ashland commons was on the other side that housed school bus loads of children attending theater that lived outside of town. It was also 1,300 feet from North Mountain Park. The moratorium would provide time to review whether this was a desirable location for a dispensary.
Cheyanne Davis/400 Williamson Way/Represented Top Shelf Meds and asked Council not to place a moratorium on dispensaries. Top Shelf Meds was working with the City Administrator and discussing how to remedy neighborhood concerns. It was important for LMMP patients to have safe and easy access to their medicine. Top Shelf Meds was looking for a new location to avoid a possible year-long ban on dispensaries.
Justin Hancock/400 Williamson Way/Also represented 400 Williamson Way and wanted to discuss possible new rules that would allow the dispensary to open. They had spent a lot of money on the federal and state regulations and now the City determined their business inappropriate. He hoped all dispensaries were able to rename open during the moratorium and they could come to an agreement with the City.
Judy Emanuel DO/111 Bush Street/Explained she was an Osteopathic physician and treated patients 50 and over that wanted to qualify for medical marijuana starting May 2014. She expressed concern that patients would not have access to their medication if Council passed the moratorium. She hoped if a moratorium occurred, it would not take a year, and Council found some way to make exceptions to the dispensaries currently operating in the area.
Sara Duff/5704 N Missouri Avenue, Portland OR/Represented patients and growers through her business Duff Johnson Consulting by ensuring they remained legal and safe regarding medical marijuana. She matched patients with growers and often there was a long distance between them. Dispensaries were necessary for patients and it was not fair to make them travel several towns away to have access to their medication. She was impressed with the state regulations recently passed regarding testing for contaminants and delaying the implementation of dispensaries would continue to put patients at risk for contaminated marijuana.
Anthony Johnson/5704 N Missouri Avenue, Portland OR/Represented the Oregon Cannabis Industry Association and urged Council not to impose a yearlong moratorium as well as not choose one zone over another. A long moratorium would only hurt the most vulnerable patients and exacerbate the problems caused by prohibition. He encouraged Council to work with people within the industry to devise rules and regulations regarding signage, hours of operation and time, place, and manner regulations. Statistics and studies showed that medical cannabis dispensaries did not increase crime, did not make roads less safe, nor did it put medicine in the hands of children.
Carol Kim/422 Rogue Place/Spoke against the proposed dispensary at 400 Williamson Way in the E-1 zone. With no buffer zones from the City, the dispensary would be in her residential area. She was concerned with the increased traffic, parking problems, night lighting and unknown hours and days of operation. The businesses currently in the area were low traffic operating weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. One dispensary operating in Medford had over 1,600 customers and a small neighborhood like hers could not handle that amount of business.
Alex Rogers/450 Park Ridge Place/Explained he was the owner of Ashland Alternative Health, the main medical marijuana clinic in town and carded 3,000 members a year. He understood the concerns of the neighbors on Williamson Way and thought some of the concerns were unwarranted and suggested people read the information Anthony Johnson sent to Council. He saw 3,000 people a year and had never experienced a problem at the clinic or received a complaint over the past five years although it was a clinic and not a dispensary. He did not support the moratorium or zoning but did support regulating hours of operation, signage, and taxing cannabis in Ashland similar to the meals tax. Established dispensaries would still exist with the moratorium and Council’s authority would diminish.
Dr. Paul Kaufman/3252 Carriage Drive, Medford OR/Shared his 25-year experience as a surgeon and physician in the area and had seen over 500 patients that used medical marijuana successfully. He considered businesses that sold cigarettes, alcohol, and pharmaceutical drugs as dangerous if not much more so than medical marijuana.
Dr. Jack Kyman/1160 Bellview Avenue/Worked at the Ashland Alternative Health Clinic and helped thousands of patients with the recommendation to use medical marijuana. The issue was access. Patients had qualifying conditions the state set up but the clinic was unable to give them their medication unless someone provided it to them. Denying access to medication was an injustice.
Eli Jaxon Bear/374 Helman Street/Shared he had cancer and explained how he used medical marijuana instead of heavy opiates successfully. He applied marijuana drops from Puffs to heal skin cancer lesions that disappeared within a week. Taking away medical marijuana dispensaries for a year would not help him. Medical marijuana was his medicine and it was saving his life.
Ron Roth/6950 Old 99 South/Hoped the City would treat medical marijuana dispensaries no different from commercial pharmacies. He did not support zoning regulations other than state law. Ashland had a potential for medical tourism. He did not support a moratorium.
Mr. Kanner clarified that Puff’s business was in the E-1 zone and the 1,000-foot buffer lines on the map were accurate. In addition to requiring dispensaries be 1,000 feet from any school, per state law, they must also be 1,000 feet from each other. There was a chance the proposed dispensary on Williamson Way was within 1,000-feet of another dispensary. Applicants also had anonymity and had to waive anonymity before the state published their name and dispensary location. It was possible an applicant in Ashland was approved by the state, did not waive anonymity and the City was unaware.
The state would uphold any moratorium imposed by a local jurisdiction, and either not approve an applicant’s license or suspend licenses on applications already approved. The applicant had the option of withdrawing the application and getting $3,500 of their initial $4,000 reimbursed. Alternatively, they could hold onto their application until the moratorium ended and try again. Once the moratorium ended, staff did not know if the law would revoke or reinstate licenses.
The rules would apply to a full or limited moratorium. However, in a limited moratorium, the Oregon Health Authority would apply the rules only in the areas the moratorium affected. During a moratorium, a business like Puffs would lose protection from criminal prosecution under state drug laws. Under a limited moratorium, Puffs may or may not lose that protection depending on whether the moratorium applied to the zone or location of the business. Mr. Lohman added the Oregon Health Authority recently issued supplemental rules that included enforcement and businesses operating in an area with a moratorium were subject to a fine up to $500 a day.
States that legalized recreational marijuana allowed either medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational only or both.
Police Chief Terry Holderness addressed the impact of crime related to dispensaries and not traffic. Criminal issues surrounding medical marijuana dispensaries occurred in highly urbanized areas that already had crime issues. Ashland had several dispensaries operating off and on throughout the years without issue. The Police Department was not anticipating an increase in crime due to medical marijuana dispensaries and alternately could not guarantee that it would not happen. Nor had the Police Department dealt with a dispensary so close to a residential neighborhood. Traffic was more a legitimate concern in the area than crime. Chief Holderness was not aware of any evidence supporting minors having easier access to marijuana because of dispensaries. It was easier for most minors to obtain marijuana at their schools. It was extremely unlikely medical marijuana dispensaries would change that.
Mr. Lohman explained state statute stated reasonable limitations a local jurisdiction could enact included hours, location, and manner. Restrictions on manner might involve a neighborhood responsibility plan, security plan, lighting plan, peak electric usage plan regarding grow lights, use of renewable energy, limitations on advertisement, location in a permanent building, building appearance, screened entrance, and prohibit drive-thru access.
Mr. Molnar commented the Planning Commission majority thought commercial zones were more appropriate because they were highly traveled streets. Some E-1 zones were in less visible areas and it might be prudent to have dispensaries in highlighted areas in town.
Mr. Lohman noted a moratorium on E-1 zoning on Hersey Street from Oak Street to North Mountain was problematical regarding equal protection. Mr. Kanner thought Council could approve a limited moratorium that applied to the downtown design overlay zone, and E-1 parcels within 100-feet of a residential except for E-1 parcels that front an arterial street. Mr. Molnar added arterials included North Main, East Main, Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland Street, and Lithia Way. Mr. Kanner clarified he added the C-1-D in the potential limited moratorium based on Council direction to the Planning Commission.
Councilor Voisin/Rosenthal m/s to approve First Reading by title only of an ordinance titled “First Reading of an Ordinance Imposing a Temporary and Limited moratorium on Establishment of Medical Marijuana Facilities in the E-1 zoning on Hersey Street from North Main to North Mountain in the City of Ashland.” DISCUSSION: Councilor Voisin thought Council needed time to decide how they wanted to regulate marijuana dispensaries and wanted to hear from the Planning Commission. She also wanted to honor the neighborhood around Williamson Way, give them the opportunity to get educated on dispensaries in their area and honor their petition. The motion would leave Puffs able to serve the public that needed access to medical marijuana. This specific E-1 zone seemed to be the area that people most likely would establish a dispensary and a moratorium provided that limitation.
Councilor Rosenthal agreed the neighborhood and those that relied on medical marijuana needed to be heard. Mayor Stromberg was concerned someone could establish a dispensary in the downtown area. Councilor Voisin did think the question of dispensaries downtown was an issue. Councilor Slattery would not support the motion. There were too many considerations regarding the motion and it felt like a negotiation of parcels. Mr. Lohman explained when an area was singled out it ran the risk of a potential equal protection claim. Mr. Kanner added the language would not prohibit a dispensary from locating on the Williamson Way parcel because it was not on Hersey Street. Councilor Voisin the clarified area did include Williamson Way.
Councilor Slattery/Rosenthal m/s called for the question. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Rosenthal, Marsh, and Slattery, YES; Councilor Morris, Voisin, NO. Motion passed 3-2.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Rosenthal, Marsh, Morris, Voisin, and Slattery, NO. Motion denied.
Councilor Morris motioned to approve First Reading by title only of an ordinance titled “First Reading of an Ordinance Imposing a Temporary moratorium on Establishment of Medical Marijuana Facilities in the City of Ashland across the board to last no longer than two months.” Motion died for lack of a second.
Councilor Marsh/Rosenthal m/s to approve First Reading of an ordinance titled “An ordinance imposing a temporary moratorium on establishment of medical marijuana facilities in the City of Ashland limited to E-1 zones for properties within 100 feet of a residential zone, and the C-1-D zones and exempt E-1 properties that front arterials.” DISCUSSION: Councilor Marsh compared dispensaries to a liquor store or pharmacy and thought the equivalent restrictions should apply. She hoped the moratorium would not last longer than three months and the Planning Commission would not recommend a prohibition on those locations in the motion and suggest a CUP process instead. She was not opposed to a dispensary in the downtown area. Councilor Rosenthal agreed and supported the motion. Councilor Slattery would also support the motion. Councilor Morris would support the motion with some concern regarding E-1 zone within a 100-feet of residential and not extending it to C-1 zones.
Councilor Voisin hoped the motion did not preempt the Planning Commission in any way or give them additional direction. Mr. Lohman clarified conceivably the motion could run the risk of a potential equal protection claim as well. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Rosenthal, Marsh, Morris, Voisin, and Slattery, YES. Motion passed.
1. Second reading by title only of a ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending AMC Chapter 2: Rules of City Council; Uniform Policies and Operating Procedures for Advisory Commissions and Boards; Recreation Commission; Conservation Commission; and Certain Administrative and Operating Departments”
Item delayed due to time constraints.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS
Councilor Voisin/Rosenthal m/s Council instruct staff to bring to Council a proposal for taxing marijuana dispensaries, their production from yard to store which would include retail, growing sites, and dispensaries for both medical and recreational marijuana taxing.
DISCUSSION: Councilor Voisin, Rosenthal, Marsh, and Morris were interested in the concept and wanted more information. Councilor Slattery had issues taxing something labeled as a medical supply as well as taxing recreational marijuana not yet passed by the state. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Rosenthal, Marsh, Morris, and Voisin, YES; Councilor Slattery, NO. Motion approved 4-1.
City Attorney Dave Lohman would bring back options for Council review.
Meeting adjourned at 10:29 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John Stromberg, Mayor