Dunes City marijuana grow operation may be denied

Oregon Liquor Control Commission application may be at risk due to improper approval

Friday, Nov. 10 — One of the proposed marijuana grow operations that has been in the middle of a hotly contested debate in Dunes City during the past few months may have its application pulled by Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), according to information released at the Dunes City Council’s meeting on Nov. 8.

The application that may be denied was submitted by Valerie Caine-Mathis.

According to Dunes City Administrator Jamie Mills, Caine-Mathis first came into the office in February to apply for a Land Use Compatibility Statement (LUCS) to create a marijuana grow on her property.

Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) requires potential commercial growers to submit a LUCS to city officials, who then must verify that the proposals meet city ordinances.

The Caine-Mathis LUCS states, “I will have three green houses, each measuring 30 feet wide and 60 feet deep.”

However, there was no mention of a residential structure. The green houses would be considered accessory structures, which are only allowed in combination with residential property.

At the time, Mills was at a conference in Eugene and the LUCS was approved by former Permit Technician Renee Green. When Mills came back from her conference, she reviewed the LUCS and stated that the LUCS could not be approved as is. A residential property had to be built on the premises, and to do that, a residential permit had to be purchased.

Dunes City staff contacted Caine-Mathis.

“I wasn’t privy to that conversation,” Mills said. “But I do recall them telling her, ‘You have to have something different. You have to have the residence.’ She said, ‘OK, we’ll bring in a site plan for the residence.”

But, according to Mills, the new plans were never submitted and a new permit was never purchased.

The old LUCS, which Mills states should have been denied, was submitted to OLCC.

Therefore, the existing LUCS OLCC has does not meet city code, according to Mills.

As to why this occurred, Mills stated the issue is still under investigation.

On Oct. 31, Mills drafted a letter to OLCC informing them that the existing LUCS does not comply with the city’s land use regulations.

However, Mills stopped short of stating that the city requested the withdrawal of the LUCS. She instead requested that OLCC determine whether the LUCS needed to be simply amended, or pulled all together.

In that case, the decision of rescinding the LUCS would fall squarely on OLCC, not Dunes City.

OLCC Media Representative Mike Pettinger stated that OLCC is evaluating the situation, reviewing the chronology of events and examining the LUCS itself.

OLCC should reach its decision in two weeks.

Mills said, “We’re trying to do this as right as we possibly can. We’re not picking sides.”

To further prevent issues with LUCS in the future, the Dunes City Planning Commission instructed staff to draft language regarding regulation of commercial marijuana activities in the Dunes City limits.

In other news from the city council meeting, the appointment of an individual to fill a vacancy on the council was again postponed due to the absence of two councilors.

The vacancy occurred after the death of Mayor Rebecca Ruede in August. The council voted for then-councilor Robert Forsythe to replace her as mayor.

The council has narrowed the candidates down to two contenders: Susan Snow and Terry Duman.

Three members of the council, Sheldon Meyer, Tom Mallen and Duke Wells, interviewed the potential applicants.

Meyer and Wells agreed that Snow should be chosen, while Mallen advocated for Duman.

Wells was not in attendance at the meeting.

“I think Susan has an incredibly different background that I thought might really help the council,” Meyer said. “This is beginning to feel like an old boy’s club, and I think fresh input from any of these people would be wonderful. But we don’t have a woman councilor.”

At that point, a citizen from the audience called out, “That’s sexist.”

“I know that,” Meyer said. “I apologize. That certainly isn’t the only reason, and not the strongest reason, but it’s an observation.”

Mallen stated his position for appointing Duman.

“The reason I chose Terry Duman is that Terry has been here 40-plus years,” he said. “He’s a local. Susan is not. And we have so many complicated, serious issues right now, mainly this marijuana thing, that I felt Terry would be more qualified than Susan because he knows so many people. He knows the situation here, he knows the culture. That’s why I went with Terry. I think he can help us sort this out. We don’t want marijuana.”

The council is expected to make a final decision in its next council meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Finally, Forsythe gave a report on the progress he’s been making in securing law enforcement and judges for the city.

He stated he had a productive meeting with Florence Police Chief Tom Turner, and will soon be meeting with Lane County Sheriff Byron Trapp. Forsythe believes that the agencies will be working toward an intergovernmental agreement to provide Dunes City with law enforcement.

Forsythe also met with Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich.

 “He has commented that he’s available to give us any help that he can,” Forsythe said. “He’s going to start spending more time here, probably once every couple of weeks. He’s volunteered to come into meetings and come and speak.”

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