• Talent enacts medical pot shop moratorium

    But City Council members allow businesses that already applied to be processed
  • TALENT — The City Council approved a temporary moratorium on business licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries Wednesday, but applications already submitted will continue to be processed.
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  • TALENT — The City Council approved a temporary moratorium on business licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries Wednesday, but applications already submitted will continue to be processed.
    Council members unanimously approved an ordinance that made the moratorium effective immediately, but it also set a Dec. 31 deadline on the stricture. During the moratorium the city will develop regulations for the location and operation of the shops.
    On March 5, the council voted 4-2 to accept applications under current rules and directed city staff members to develop land-use codes for the outlets. Since then state legislation was enacted that allows moratoriums until May 1, 2015.
    "I don't think we want to go back on our word," said Councilor Darby Stricker, who made the motion in March to accept applications.
    Three applications have been received, and one of those has already gained provisional state approval. Lawyers were being consulted to see whether the city could issue a business license with the provisional acceptance, said City Manager Tom Corrigan.
    Green Valley Wellness LLC received provisional state approval to operate at 103 N. Pacific Highway before the meeting.
    "We appreciated that they respected the process we have already gone through," said Peter Gross, a partner in Green Valley. "They honored their word, and we are very thankful for that."
    Gross and partner Michael Monarch said they expect the shop to open in late May or early June after they get building permits and remodel the space. They must submit reports to the state on security and other measures before opening.
    Monarch told the council that 15,000 medical marijuana card holders live in Jackson and Josephine counties. Jackson County and several cities have imposed moratoriums on the businesses. State legislation passed last year authorized the shops.
    Two other applicants, Melissa and Jamin Griersbach, owners of Rogue Farmers at 1007 S. Pacific Highway, plan to open Talent Health Club if they receive state and city approval.
    "This will be safe for the community and existing businesses," said Griersbach, who already has invested time and money for lawyers and design work for a dispensary.
    Another applicant wants to open Grateful Meds at 251 W. Valley View Road, site of the former Talent Truck Stop Cafe, said Corrigan. That applicant has not yet applied to the state, he added.
    Another potential applicant — for a shop across from Green Valley Wellness — was advised that a dispensary could not open there under state rules that prohibit shops from operating within 1,000 feet of each other.
    Two Talent residents testified on the issue.
    "I would prefer not to have a half-dozen (dispensaries)," said Earl King. "One or two if we have to go that way. It's a tough call."
    Paul Noll wondered who would provide enforcement of rules. He said the presence of medical marijuana growers in neighborhoods created nega-tives and that dispensaries were quite different.
    Revisions to land-use codes to set regulations on dispensaries would take from four to six months, officials estimated. Proposed rules must be reviewed by the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development.
    The town's Planning Commission must review and approve a proposal, and a public hearing would be held before the City Council could authorize changes.
    State legislation allows cities to set distances between dispensaries and other zoning uses.
    Community Development Director Zac Moody said he is considering recommendations of 500 feet from parks and 100 feet from residences.
    Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.
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