PHOENIX — Complaints from residents bothered by strong smells wafting from marijuana grow sites will be discussed at a City Council meeting today.
Council members will discuss a potential ordinance that would aim to control variables related to legal marijuana grow sites inside city limits.
City Manager Eli Naffah said potential restrictions could address the allowable distance marijuana plants can be grown from neighboring property lines and factors such as whether certain properties might require indoor growing.
"The reason this came up was because some residents complained about plants being grown along their property line, and during harvest time — like in September and October — when the odor can become so intense that it smells like a skunk," Naffah said, noting that effects on public health also could be discussed.
"One case that came up was a day care center with a house next door that was growing near the property line. So that's a concern about whether the kids should be breathing it, too."
Naffah said the city's primary focus will be to ensure that all residents' health and property rights are respected.
Phoenix resident Joan Smith said she and her husband, Chuck, lost use of their large backyard for several months last year because a neighbor's crop of 12- to 15-foot-tall marijuana plants filled her property with a scent so strong "my dog wouldn't even go back there."
"It was extremely frustrating to not be able to use our backyard," said Smith, who was quick to point out that she is not opposed to marijuana use for legitimate medical reasons. "The smell was so strong it burned my eyes, and I couldn't even go into my garden. That's saying a lot, because I'm not even that sensitive to smells.
"We're seniors, and we're not going to move. There have to be ways that we can make sure everyone can use their properties without being affected by something like this."
Naffah said City Attorney Kurt Knudsen would attend an Oregon City Attorneys conference in Redmond in early May. The conference will include a discussion about "current and evolving law on marijuana grow sites in Oregon and possible alternatives for municipal regulation."
"We had originally planned to present an ordinance at (today's) meeting, but we're going to wait and find out what Kurt learns at the conference, so (today) we'll just be discussing what we've found out so far and give the council a chance to raise any concerns and talk about what parameters might be of a potential ordinance," Naffah said.
"Ideally we would like to get something started before our next meeting because people are starting to grow, and we're hearing from some residents who have neighbors planting along their property line. We'd like to have something in place to address any issues that come up for residents this growing season."
The council will meet at 6:30 tonight at the city Public Works Annex, 1000 S. B St. For information, call 541-535-1955.