Business license for marijuana grow approved
Thirteen candidates were interviewed for the city administrator position during a special meeting of the Hines Common Council Friday, May 20, and it was the consensus of the interview panel to select John Leuthauser, Judy Erwin, Shawn Phillips and Rachael Robinson for second-round interviews before the full council.
During its regular meeting on May 24, the council heard presentations from the four finalists before adjourning to executive session.
After reconvening the regular meeting, the council agreed to make a tentative employment offer to Leuthauser, pending a background check. Erwin was named as an alternate, also pending a background check.
Leuthauser studied music for about six years and visited Europe multiple times in orchestra tours.
He also studied political science, has worked in the House and Senate, and served on the Gresham City Council, where he worked with a general fund budget of around $30 to $40 million per year. (Dedicated funds averaged from $150 to $250 million a year.)
In addition to having experience with budgets, finance, planning, human resource work, and contract management, Leuthauser is also well-versed in Oregon land use law and has participated in multiple land use decisions.
He has a master’s degree in business administration and started working on a master’s in public administration.
Additionally, he has experience working for various credit unions.
Regarding government work, he said, “Every interaction is customer service. I’m going to work to make sure we have the best darn customer service that we can possibly have.”
When asked how he’d feel about living in a small town, Leuthauser replied that he’s lived in small communities before, and he loved it.
The council reviewed a business license application for Matthew Shepherd of Eastern Oregon Business Development LLC, which will be located at 201 Hotchkiss Lane in Hines.
“In layman’s terms, it’s a marijuana grow,” City Administrator Joan Davies said regarding the business, which has 14 investors.
She added that Eastern Oregon Business Development LLC has finished almost all of its state paperwork, but needs to obtain a local business license in order to complete it.
Production is expected to begin about Aug. 1, with the first shipment going out a couple months later.
“They will not have any sales here,” Davies said. “It’s a hydroponic operation with no dirt involved. It’s all inside the building. There will be little increased traffic, except that they anticipate creating upwards of 30 jobs in the community to process the marijuana when it’s ripe and ready to ship. There will be no changes to the outside of the building. All of their research has shown that the smell will occur when it begins to bud, and they have an air quality control system that will be in place to control that.”
Mayor Nikki Morgan asked about security, and Councilor Rod Bennett replied that, among other requirements, the business must have cameras that the state can log into.
There was also some discussion regarding Eastern Oregon Academy’s (EOA’s) classification, as the site will be located near the academy. Since it’s listed as a “group home” in its articles of incorporation, EOA is not considered a school.
Morgan asked about the effectiveness of the air filtration system, and Davies replied that the comprehensive plan requires that there is no smell, dust, noise or sight outside the building.
Councilor Ron Williams noted that the business would bring employment to the community, and the marijuana would be shipped out of the area.
The council agreed to approve the business license for Eastern Oregon Business Development LLC, based on completion of state requirements.
Williams and Councilor Diane Rapaport asked whether the city could tax marijuana sales. Davies replied that the council should start discussing the matter soon, as it would have to be submitted to the county clerk’s office to be placed on the ballot.
She added that, because Hines didn’t opt out of the state-licensed or registered marijuana businesses, the city will receive a portion of the state tax revenue, which is projected to be $43 million in the first year.
“Forty percent of that goes to schools, 15 percent goes to Oregon State Police, 10 percent of $43 million goes to the city police, so depending on how many cities they need to divide it up in, that’s a guarantee,” she said, noting that 19 counties and 80 cities opted out.
Councilor Loren Emang said, “I just think it’s ironic that now we’re joining the ranks of Mexico and Columbia and other foreign countries.”
Davies presented a written report from Police Chief Ryan DeLange who noted that his caseload has more than doubled in the past three weeks. He added that, to his knowledge, the call load is higher than it has ever been in the city’s history, theft cases have almost tripled, domestic violence/assault calls have doubled, and there is a very high quantity of methamphetamine in both cities.
He also reported that Officer Roxane Ellis continues to do well at the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) academy, and Officer Brennan Pilon is scheduled to leave for the academy soon.
The council considered swearing in Burns Officer Robby Tiller as a reserve officer to fill in while the Hines officers are away at the academy.
However, Emang and Morgan expressed concern that Tiller would be overworked.
Williams asked whether Alan Johnson, who was sworn in as a reserve officer, is still available. Emang replied that he is, but DeLange expressed some concerns about him. However, Emang added that he thinks Johnson “would be fine.”
Ultimately, the council decided to have DeLange request that DPSST delay Pilon’s training until the next training session.
In other business, the council:
• received department head reports from Fire Chief Bob Spence and Acting Public Works Director Jerry Lewellen, as well as the city administrator report from Davies;
• received a special presentations from Veterans Service Officer Guy McKay, Harney County Dial-A-Ride Transportation Manager Darlene Needham, and Peggy Yarbor of Community in Action regarding services that are available to veterans;
• accepted a $2,000 bid from Lewellen for a 1999 Kawasaki four-wheeler and a $3,725 bid from Edge Performance Sports of Ontario for a rotary broom attachment and accessories;
• adjourned for a public hearing on the 2016-2017 budget.
Davies, who also serves as the budget officer, noted a few changes that were made to the approved budget to account for the purchase of the four-wheeler.
There being no comment, the budget hearing adjourned, and the council meeting reconvened;
• adopted the proposed 2016-2017 budget;
• passed Resolution 2214, declaring the city’s election to receive state revenues;
• adopted Resolution 2215, adopting the 2016-2017 budget, making appropriations, and imposing and categorizing taxes;
• agreed to donate $125 to the Kiwanis Club of Burns-Hines for the annual Fourth of July fireworks display.
The next council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 7.