Updated with comments from Cornelius City Manager Rob Drake.
The Cornelius City Council voted Monday, March 2, on ordinances regulating medical marijuana facilities and backyard livestock, moving them both to a second reading March 16.
The medical marijuana dispensary ordinance would supplement existing state restrictions on dispensaries’ placement and operations. Adding to state buffers that keep dispensaries 1,000 feet from the property lines of schools or other medical marijuana facilities, the ordinance seeks to restrict dispensaries to highway commercial zones more than 1,000 feet from state-licensed daycare centers within the city.
Given these restrictions, and following a yearlong dispensary ban that expires May 1, medical marijuana dispensaries would be allowed in two small areas along Oregon 8 on the east and west ends of town. According to Community Development Director Mike Cerbone, three daycare facilities currently impact the city’s highway commercial zones, further limiting potential dispensary lots.
Councilor Dave Schamp raised concern that about two more daycare facilities placed near these zones could effectively render medical marijuana dispensaries illegal in Cornelius. He argued that opportunities for medical marijuana dispensaries in town are slight even without additional daycare buffers. Concerned citizens could, in theory, eliminate those opportunities by opening more daycare facilities, he said.
City Manager Rob Drake later called this scenario possible, but not plausible. Given the steps required to license a daycare and the speed at which prospective dispensary owners would likely stake their claim, he said, it’s unlikely a citizen would or could establish a new daycare buffer quickly enough to block a dispensary.
Schamp and Councilor Jose Orozco voted no on the ordinance at Monday’s meeting, while Mayor Jeff Dalin and Councilors Harley Crowder and Steve Heinrich voted yes.
Discussion around a proposed backyard livestock ordinance continued Monday after months of feedback from concerned livestock owners. The ordinance would legalize the large amount of backyard livestock currently residing in Cornelius, Cerbone said.
Up to 13 poultry animals – not including roosters – and two miniature livestock animals, such as horses or goats, would be allowed depending on lot size and available roaming space. Cerbone said a permit and fee would only be required for miniature livestock, and rules would be enforced only when complaints arise.
This ordinance, too, moves on to a second reading March 16 after a single no vote from Schamp. Concerned with a grandfather clause that would exempt properties forced to annex into the city, Schamp said the ordinance could “tie a future council’s hands” in regards to serving the interest of the whole community. If, for example, lots subject to the city’s livestock code eventually surrounded an exempt dairy farm, its immunity from the rules could negatively impact its neighbors.
The ordinances will get a second reading and vote 7 p.m. March 16 at the City Council Chambers, 1310 N. Adair St. in Cornelius.