Concerns raised regarding marijuana business license
At its regular meeting on Tuesday, June 14, the Hines City Council voted to rescind the offer of the city administrator position made to John Leuthauser on May 24, and then voted to offer the position to Judy Erwin.
Thirteen candidates were originally interviewed for the city administrator position on May 20, and four of those candidates were then selected for a second interview.
Following the second round of interviews, the council agreed to make a tentative employment offer to Leuthauser, pending a background check, and Erwin was named as an alternate, also pending a background check.
During the public comment period of the June 14 meeting, Hines resident Chuck Boatman asked the council why pull someone in from out of the area, and pay for moving expenses, when there was already someone who lives here who can fill the position?
“We have someone who lives here, she was your second choice, so why not use what is local, and what is already here? Is she (Erwin) qualified?” asked Boatman.
Mayor Nikki Morgan replied that she was.
Following an executive session to consider employment (ORS 192.660 (2) (a)), the council reconvened into open session and made the motions to rescind the offer to Leuthauser, and make the offer of the city administrator position to Erwin.
Mayor Morgan told the council that, with the departure of Joan Davies from the city administrator position, the city is in need of a municipal judge. She added that, as of Jan. 1, 2016, the person filling the municipal judge position must be a member of the Oregon State Bar, meaning he/she must be a lawyer. If a person was already in the judge position before Jan. 1, 2016, he/she is grandfathered in, and doesn’t have to be a lawyer.
Morgan stated it would be very expensive for the city to have to hire an attorney for the position, so they are exploring several options, including the possibility of having the Burns municipal judge step in when needed. Morgan said they will need to address the Burns council and go from there.
Kylee Murphy approached the council regarding its decision to approve a business license for Eastern Oregon Business Development, LLC, which will be located on Hotchkiss Lane in Hines.
The business, which has 14 investors, is basically a hydroponic marijuana growing operation.
Murphy told the council she and her family own the Hines RV and Mobile Home Park and Left Coast Truck and Equipment Parts, and both businesses are about a mile away from the proposed location of the new business. She said the thought of the city bringing in drugs to the community just for money makes her and her family “sick.”
Murphy said most people don’t know that the city of Hines didn’t opt out of allowing state-licensed or registered marijuana businesses. She noted that former Councilor Dick Baird voted in December 2015 not to opt out, and then in January 2016, his name appears on the business license with the other investors for the new business.
“To have the license application completed and already approved by the state, he must have started the business paperwork before he voted to have the city of Hines opt out,” she said.
Murphy said she didn’t think it’s fair that five people, the council, got to make the decision about the marijuana business, and suggested it go on the general election ballot in November.
Murphy also had concerns about fires at the facility, police coverage, security, and water availability. She said hydroponics, electricity, and fertilizer could lead to a very flammable situation.
She stated the police are already short-staffed, and she is concerned the new business would add to the workload. In addition, she said security is questionable, as there is no lighting in the area, and the business would be handling large amounts of cash on the premises.
“We need to work this out before they begin work there,” Murphy said.
In other business:
• Police Chief Ryan DeLange reported his department had been busy, especially with domestic violence calls. He added that most of those calls involved alcohol, prescription medicines, or drugs.
DeLange also told the council that Roxanne Ellis was doing well at the police training academy, and will graduate July 15. DeLange also hopes to have a new officer in place by July 1, as Officer Brennan Pilon has accepted a position with Burns Police;
• Fire Chief Bob Spence stated Obsidian Days at Hines Park, held June 10-12, went well, and 80 percent of the vendors had signed up to return next year. He reported calls were up a little bit, especially traffic calls, and they were preparing for the upcoming wildfire season;
• Cathy Jory of Hines had concerns about rental houses that don’t have garbage service. She said a nearby neighbor was disposing of dirty diapers by just placing them outdoors, and the smell was “atrocious.”
DeLange said he talked with the person throwing the diapers outside, and gave her a week to get it cleaned up;
• the council approved a livestock permit for Isaac Van Tassel to raise sheep for 4-H, and also approved a $130 donation to the Harney County Senior and Community Service Center for its meals program.
The next council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, at city hall.