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Council sends ban on pot grows to Medford voters

Medford City Council is split on whether to ban outdoor marijuana grows in residential areas, but they no had problem referring the matter to the voters.

A November ballot measure was approved 6-1 during Thursday's afternoon council meeting. Kevin Stine cast the lone nay, while Clay Bearnson, a medical marijuana dispensary operator, abstained.

The council has sparred over whether there should be an outright ban or just a ban on outdoor grows.

Council President Dick Gordon said the term "residential area" left some ambiguity, because there are residences in commercial zones.

"The term 'residential area' leaves some subjectivity that I don't think we need in something like this," Gordon said "I'd prefer to use the word zone, or whatever the appropriate term is referring to our land use comp plan."

Deputy City Attorney Kevin McConnell told the council they could give more specific wording if voters approve the measure.

Stine said wording is everything.

"I'm assuming the intent of whatever is passed is that you can't grow no matter where in the city limits," Stine said.

McConnell responded he didn't think that was the intent. He thought production or wholesale license holders could grow in commercial zones, but he wasn't sure about industrial areas.

In the proposed ordinance, he said, production means: "The planting, cultivation, growing or harvest of marijuana and includes the trimming or drying of marijuana."

Councilor Tim Jackle said the wording could differentiate the areas of commercial and industrial zones where people live and don't live.

"In certain (planned-unit developments), 80 percent of the land it would be allowed and 20 percent not allowed where there is residential use," Jackle said.

In other business, the council voted against an amended development agreement with Sky Park LLC, asking that the developers of the proposed downtown residential project reapply to the Site Plan and Architectural Commission, rather than seek an extension, before moving forward with the project.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com.