By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

The Gold Beach City Council held a town hall Monday to discuss all things related to weed businesses, with the goal of providing community input for the mayor and council before they address marijuana business issues.

City Administrator Jodi Fritts began the meeting with a history of state and city marijuana regulations.

Fritts emphasized participants were not to debate the legality of marijuana because local and state voters had already endorsed legal weed.

As of Monday night, two marijuana businesses have been approved for Gold Beach but neither has opened.

Pastor Rory LeGuee asked the council to be aware of the image of the town and minimize the effects of stores and growers on the area.

Mark Nast expressed concern about locations given the mix of commercial and residential properties in Gold Beach. He feared pot shops would be within 500 feet of residences even though shops were to be more than 1,000 feet outside residentially zoned areas.

Councilwoman Tamie Kaufman said keeping shops 1,000 feet from residences would be tough in Gold Beach because many residences are within commercially-zoned areas.

Bar owner Paula Newell said the marijuana store slated to open near her Crow’s Nest would, “not be good for anyone in that area.”

According to Newell, pot customers would be coming out and smoking and drinking in their cars. She also feared an overall lack of parking in the area would hurt business.

“I’ll lose money if I don’t have parking,” she said.

Planning commission member Bob Chibante noted weed shops are the most heavily regulated businesses in the state. Employees have to pass background checks, the stores have to follow strict rules and the owners have to be licensed, according to Chibante.

He said these shops will bring money into town and people shopping with them will also buy meals at restaurants.

Chibante also felt the market would limit the number of weed stores and pointed to other vacant businesses as evidence.

“We are not going to be overrun,” he said.

Other residents urged the council to limit the size of signs.

Fritts noted those ordinances would have to affect all businesses equally.

Several other residents asked the council to monitor the shops and ensure city ordinances and other laws are enforced.

When council members were reproved for allowing a pot shop to, “push out a non-profit that takes care of our pets,” Fritts said the building housing the animal shelter was sold by the owner and not the city.

Mayor Karl Popoff said residents don’t want a government that tells them to whom they can and cannot sell their property.

In closing, Popoff thanked everyone for coming and assured attendees, “we have labored hard to make sure that we do the right thing.”

Popoff also complimented the council on its efforts and told the crowd this council would work together to address their concerns.

Council members thanked the audience and agreed to take this feedback and schedule workshops so the information gained Monday could be included in future decisions.

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