Marijuana facility moves forward

The site plan for Organic Investments includes two phases. The first phase is in gray.

INDEPENDENCE — Organic Investments, a marijuana processing and growing facility, got the green light from the Independence City Council after its business plan was appealed twice.

The business will be located on Stryker Road within the city limits of Independence.

The decision came at a special meeting on April 5, after the city council held a public hearing on March 31 regarding two appeals against the planning commission’s approval of the business.

The appeals were filed by a resident of the Independence Airpark and by the Independence Northpark Homeowners Association, also located in the airpark.

Concerns ranged from noise to odor to increased crime and decreased property values.

The applicant, Organic Investments, said he would address the noise concerns by taking a baseline measurement of ambient noise, followed by measurements twice a year for each of the two phases of development.

If noise levels exceed the baseline ambient noise by 10 decibels, the applicant will correct it, said Joey Shearer, city planner.

“At the last hearing, we heard some concerns from the public and the council about the noise impacts of the processing and the grow,” Shearer said. “The staff analysis of the rules led staff to believe that the agricultural component was exempt. The condition (presented by Organic Investments) takes elements holding them both not to exceed the 10 decibels above ambient noise.”

Councilor and airpark resident Ken Day said he didn’t feel like the city’s leadership “did any favors” in the application process. He said by the April 5 meeting — and by the March 31 public hearing — the application was “basically a done deal, and we have to do it.”

“We should have done it early in 2016 or late 2015,” Day said. “We’ve taken away our ability to say no. I don’t like being put in that position, but I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it. I think they’ve made a lot of remedies to the main issues, which is odor and noise.”

Councilor Tom Takacs said he appreciated the applicant putting additional conditions on noise, adding that a large part of the public concerns was a distrust that the city would enforce its codes.

“I’m not sure that’s something we can address during this appeal process, perhaps we can actually address that in the budget committee meetings, make sure our code enforcement takes all the resources they need to manage this sort of business,” he said.

Councilor Marilyn Morton pointed out that Independence is not alone in these kinds of discussions.

“It would have been nice to be more ready than we were,” she said. “Part of it is this is new to the whole state of Oregon. We’re concerned about regulation, that all the inspections are done. I would like to … remind that there are two other agencies overseeing this business, the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, so we have some friends on our side with this.”

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