At their meeting Monday, Gold Beach city councilors voted 3-2 to approve an ordinance amending limits to locations of medicinal or recreational marijuana businesses.
The changes would disallow marijuana businesses from locating within 1,000 feet of each other. They also forbid marijuana businesses from burning marijuana remnants or by-products.
As councilors discussed the effects of the changes in an open hearing, Mayor Karl Popoff noted the prohibitions would limit the number of legal marijuana businesses in the city to two.
Councilor Larry Brennan favored including limits and effectively decreasing the number of marijuana businesses.
Councilor Doug Brand disagreed, saying the 1,000 foot limit was not needed.
“These businesses will self-regulate,” he said. “Why should we regulate how many businesses we have?”
Brand implied poorly managed marijuana businesses would close due to competition.
Councilor Becky Campbell said limiting businesses was counterproductive.
“We talk about increasing our tax base and bringing businesses into our city and this is a policy that will directly impact businesses coming into the city and increasing our tax base,” she said. “This is government over-regulating its population.”
Resident Laurie Van Zante expressed concern that marijuana businesses, like liquor stores, would populate Ellensburg Avenue.
“Do we really want more than two liquor and marijuana stores on our main street? –– No.” She said.
Councilor Tamie Kaufman said the limits provide “a good balance between people who wanted these businesses in town and those who wanted little of it or none at all.”
Administrator Jodi Fritts noted that two marijuana businesses had already been approved within 1,000 feet of each other and would be allowed to stay because the ordinances were not retroactive.
After the vote, she offered the first reading of the ordinances and changes. After a second reading in May and a 30-day wait, they will become law.
Kaufman suggested buying two properties with urban renewal money to benefit the city and the urban renewal district.
The first, the Ellensburg Theater property, is on land owned by the Masons, and Kaufman suggested buying the land and leasing the building.
She said the city would benefit because improvements increasing its value would return value to the city.
The second property, the old Reporter Building, has a clouded title, according to Kaufman, and she suggested acquiring it as well and leasing the building.
The Reporter Building was a bank and was, according to Fritts, already in plans for acquisition.
Councilors said there had been difficulties when the city attempted to buy the building in the past.
Kaufman recommended having City Attorney Christy Monson meet with the owners and their lenders, calling her a “most-skilled negotiator.”
Van Zante, president of Gold Beach Main Street, a local group dedicated to improving the city, said they love that old building. She envisioned a brewery there along with housing.
The council agreed to have Kaufman explore buying both properties.
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