By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
More progress has been made on the recreational marijuana retailer permit process in Keizer.
In August, Keizer City Councilors directed staff to move forward on a permit process for recreational marijuana retailers that is similar to the process used for permitting medical marijuana facilities.
On Dec. 7, city attorney Shannon Johnson went over a list of differences between recreational marijuana retailers and medical marijuana facilities.
For example, Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) regulates recreational while the Oregon Health Authority regulates medical; the age for a minor doing recreational is 21 years while the limit is 18 for medical; and a recreational marijuana retailer cannot be located on the same tax lot or within the same building as a medical marijuana facility.
Johnson also spoke in regards to edible marijuana.
“The OLCC rules on edibles are both broad and significant,” Johnson said. “The rules require the packaging of edibles to be child-resistant and the labels must not be attractive to minors. For the most part, the packaging and labeling must be pre-approved by the OLCC. The OLCC had the time and resources to get it pretty close to right.”
Johnson also included an excerpt of 78 pages of OLCC rules, including the definition of cartoons as it relates to packaging.
“It’s important to know how they define cartoons at the OLCC,” he said.
Some concerns were expressed about packaging being appealing to minors, but councilor Dennis Koho looked at actual packages to see for himself.
“I’ve seen how they are packaged,” he said. “They are plain packages. They can’t have things like gummy bears on them. I think we are overregulating by prohibiting edibles.”
Mayor Cathy Clark expressed concern about higher incidents of poisoning with edibles and thus supported the idea of not allowing an extension for them. Councilor Brandon Smith disagreed.
“We add chemicals to our drinking water, which is poisonous to some people,” Smith said. “I do not agree we should be regulating based on the possibility some can be poisoned by a bad batch.”
“That’s not what I said,” Clark responded. “It can be ingested accidentally by kids and pets. It can be very toxic to animals.”
The overall motion was approved 6-1, with Smith voting against it, meaning there will be a second vote in the future.
In other business:
• A vacation of a portion of Ridge Drive was approved unanimously. The portion is north of the intersection with the new part of McLeod Lane under construction for the Mountain West Investment Corporation and Bonaventure apartment and senior living project.
City attorney Shannon Johnson noted abutting property owners have given consent and that access to the remaining portion of Ridge Drive will be provided by a 20 feet temporary easement.
Richard Berger, project manager for Mountain West, noted the action was a formality.
“This is part of the approved master plan, this just implements that,” Berger said. “Hopefully you’ve been seeing the project move forward. We have curbs and gutters in and have started the foundation work.”
Mayor Cathy Clark indicated she’s been keeping tabs on the project.
“I’ve been excited to watch the progress,” Clark said.
• Amendments to the Keizer Development Code regarding accessory structures were approved, relating to standards about location, size and design.
Among the changes: the structure must be secondary to the primary use on the property and a single family structure must be located on the property; the accessory structure can be placed on the side or rear property line if it is no more than eight feet tall; and the maximum size limit is increased from 600 to 750 square feet if no garage currently exists and at least part of the structure will be used as a garage.
• The city recently did a Request For Proposals (RFP) for audit services. The city has used Grove, Mueller and Swank PC for the past 21 years. Two firms responded to the RFP, with Grove, Mueller and Swank being nearly $55,000 cheaper. As such, the company will be providing auditing service for up to seven more years according to the new contract.
• Several appointments were approved. Scott Klug will be keeping his seat on the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, with former city councilor Jim Taylor joining the board. Hersch Sangster returns to the Planning Commission, while Wayne Frey and David Dempster were confirmed for the Traffic Safety/Bikeways/Pedestrian Committee.