WA: Columbia County Commissioners Approve Rainier Marijuana Grow Business

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After a public hearing involving nearly 20 concerned community members, Columbia County commissioners Wednesday approved a controversial marijuana grow business that will be located near the Rainier High School campus.

On July 11, the Columbia County Planning Commission recommended approval of a grow proposal by RAD Nursery Products, LLC. The company intends to build the grow operation in a 24,000-square-foot former indoor sports building.

Opponents, many of who were concerned by the facility’s close proximity to Rainier High School, asked the commissioners to hold a hearing on the recommendation, which was held this morning. After listening, though, commissioners approved the project.

“The issue came down to land-use laws, and whether they’re being followed or not,” County Commissioner Earl Fisher Wednesday. “After deliberation, we decided that they were all being followed and could not find any legal reason to prevent the request from going forward.”

State laws only regulate how close marijuana dispensaries can be located to school property, but they don’t restrict grow operations’ proximity to school grounds, Fisher noted.

Nevertheless, Rainier school Superintendent Michael Carter was disappointed.

“I understand why the commissioners felt that they had to rule that way,” Carter said. “I believe that they listened to all sides, but I still believe that it’s not the best decision.”

Carter said he will have to consult the school board on whether to appeal the commissioners’ decision.

“The staff and the county did a really great job doing their homework,” Carter said regarding the commissioners’ research into local and state land-use laws.

Carter said a court decision regarding the city of Cave Junction’s business ordinance could set a helpful precedent. In 2015, Cave Junction denied a license to a proposed marijuana dispensary on the grounds that selling pot remains a federal crime, despite its legality under Oregon law. The owners sued the city, but trial courts in Oregon upheld the city’s business license ordinance. The Cave Junction case currently is on appeal.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Columbia County Commissioners Approve Rainier Marijuana Grow Business
Author: Madelyn Reese
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