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Seaside moves closer to allowing pot dispensaries

SEASIDE — The city of Seaside is moving ahead with its planning for where, how and when medical marijuana dispensaries will be able to operate within city limits and the urban growth boundary.

The Seaside City Council and Seaside Planning Commission met Monday night for a joint work session on the topic.

The Planning Commission, which received public input at its March 3 meeting, is not recommending to add any zoning restrictions to those placed by the Oregon Health Authority’s Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program, which state a dispensary must be more than 1,000 feet from a school and from another dispensary. Seaside’s Zoning Ordinance allows drug stores as a permissible use in a commercial zone, which is where dispensaries could be operated.

“We felt it would be unreasonably burdensome” to add more restrictions or regulations than those provided by the state, Planning Commission Chairman Ray Romine said, adding they felt “no desire or great need for other restrictions.” The commission reached a consensus, he said, that, in all fairness, the city should treat dispensaries like pharmacies in regard to zoning. Given the existing restrictions, there are only about four places a dispensary could operate.

Mayor Don Larson did not agree. He feels other restrictions should be considered.

“Otherwise I think this could get totally, totally out of line,” he said. He suggested adding restrictions to a dispensary’s distance from a park or day care center and its hours of operation.

City Manager Mark Winstanley said the city’s parks are not in commercial zones. He cautioned that, if more restrictions are placed, they could work in reverse: Someone wanting to operate a day care, for instance, could not do so within 800 or 900 feet of an existing dispensary, which would limit the community’s access to day care.

City staff will develop a draft ordinance and revision to the business license ordinance to bring before City Council at its April 13 meeting.

The city is not addressing recreational marijuana until the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the state agency selected to implement the recreational marijuana law passed by voters in November, has announced its proposed restrictions and regulations.