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Resident raises concern about marijuana

Noise ordinance discussed

During its regular meeting on June 28, the Hines Common Council discussed the possibility of imposing a tax on marijuana sales, with revenues going to the city.

City Administrator Judy Erwin provided the council with an example ordinance for review.

Councilor Rod Bennett inquired about the kinds of marijuana businesses that can be taxed, and Erwin said she will research the matter.

If the council agrees to move forward with the tax, the proposal will be placed on the ballot.

Because Hines chose not to opt out of the state-licensed or registered marijuana businesses, the city is already set to receive a portion of the state tax revenue.

•••

Kylee Murphy stated that the council hadn’t addressed any of the concerns that she raised during the previous meeting (held June 14).

During that meeting, Murphy approached the council concerning its decision to approve a business license for Eastern Oregon Business Development LLC, which is a hydroponic marijuana growing operation. The council approved the license (based on completion of state requirements) during its regular meeting on May 24.

Murphy and her family own the Hines RV and Mobile Home Park and Left Coast Truck and Equipment Parts, which are both about a mile away from the proposed location of the marijuana production business.

Murphy said she doesn’t think Hines is ready to deal with marijuana businesses, and asked whether the city has ordinances to regulate them.

“From my last meeting to now, nothing has happened. So I’m really not sure what I do as a citizen to make sure you guys talk about these issues and come up with these ordinances,” she said.

Mayor Nikki Morgan replied that the previous meeting was only two weeks prior, and there’s a lot of information to research. She added that, if the business gets its license through the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the council will tour the facility and “get a lot more questions answered.”

Councilor Diane Rapaport suggested inviting someone who has a comparable business to discuss the specifics of their operation, and Councilor Hilda Allison suggested contacting representatives from an established marijuana producer in Bend.

Voicing concern regarding the amount of cash that will be on-site, Murphy asked whether police will be able to secure the area.

Morgan responded that “this is a digital age,” and there may not be cash on-site.

Allison added that the business will be required by law to have security systems in place.

Murphy said she’s worried Hines will become “a major hub of marijuana” and that additional marijuana businesses, including retailers, will crop up in the city.

Morgan noted that the city chose not to opt out for monetary purposes.

“I encourage you to look up other ways for revenue for the city. Seriously, get involved, anybody, everybody because look at our budget…We need the revenue,” she said.

Murphy asked, “So we’re going to trade drugs for that revenue?”

Bennett said, “The public is not interested in paying more taxes or anything else. I know there’s a few people that are upset about the marijuana grows, but at a million dollars, that’s $30,000 of revenue for the city. If it’s a two million dollar grow, that’s $60,000 of improvements for our city.”

Murphy pointed out that Dick Baird, who is one of the business’ 14 investors, was on the council when it decided not to opt out.

Morgan replied that the council voted as a majority not to opt out.

“Even if we take that one vote away, it would still pass,” Bennett said.

Murphy asserted that 65 percent of Harney County voted against Measure 91,  “but yet the five council people somehow got it in.”

The council will continue its research regarding marijuana.

•••

Linda Horn attended the meeting to discuss some issues that she’s had with her neighbor and request permission to construct a wall for privacy.

Morgan suggested that she approach the Hines Planning Commission regarding the wall and dispatch regarding her neighbor’s behavior.

Kelli Beers commented that the same neighbor attempted to issue a citizen’s citation against her children, claiming they violated the noise ordinance by playing basketball in the street.

Councilor Loren Emang asked what time the children were playing basketball, and Beers replied that it was 9:30 p.m. on Friday. She added that the neighbor had previously yelled at her children for playing basketball at 3 p.m.

“This is a retaliation from a criminal case I’ve got open right now,” Police Chief Ryan DeLange said, adding that Beers is a witness in the case. “I can tell you this: Kids playing basketball does not violate our ordinance on noise violations at all, and we will not enforce that. I encourage kids to be active in sports.”

Beers thanked DeLange for addressing the situation on his day off.

•••

DeLange reported that the department is working with the Oregon State Police detective on two major cases that have to do with pills and drugs.

Officer Roxane Ellis will graduate from the police training academy July 15, and DeLange plans to attend the ceremony.

Officer Brennan Pilon is now working with the Burns Police Department, and the Hines Police Department selected Marc Novak to replace him.

“He’s a great kid and great for the community,” DeLange said regarding Novak. “He was formally a BLM [Bureau of Land Management] firefighter, and I’m very excited to bring him on board.”

DeLange also reported that the radar trailer was moved to South Quincy in an effort to abate speeding in the area, and rattlesnakes have been prevalent this year. In an effort to prevent fires, he asked the public to keep their fireworks to a minimum during Independence Day.

Councilor John Mims asked how the police vehicles are holding up.

DeLange replied that the car that Novak will drive has 139,000 miles on it, and will have to be replaced next year. However, he said the other two cars are great.

•••

Acting Public Works Director Jerry Lewellen said the city lagoons are evaporating quickly, dropping about an inch since the previous council meeting. However, he added that they are above where they were at this time last year.

Lewellen also reported that the department received and assembled the rotary broom attachment, which will be used to sweep the streets.

He added that the parks are now being watered during the day, so that the sprinklers are not running all night.

Fire Chief Bob Spence said this saves thousands of gallons of water.

Murphy commented that the Hines Park is “under water” every day, and the sprinklers are “drowning the lunch program.”

She said, “There’s nowhere to sit, there’s nowhere to play, there’s nowhere to nothing.”

Lewellen said he hasn’t received any complaints from the manager of the lunch program, and only half of the park is watered at a time.

A lengthy discussion ensued.

Morgan suggested that the manager of the lunch program contact Lewellen  to work out a watering schedule.

•••

Erwin reported that she’s been working on developing an intergovernmental agreement with the city of Burns to use their municipal court judge.

During the previous meeting, Morgan informed the council that, as of Jan. 1, the person filling the municipal judge position must be a member of the Oregon State Bar, meaning he/she must be a lawyer.

Since she was already in the judge position, former City Administrator Joan Davies was grandfathered in. However, with Davies’ departure, Hines is considering the option of asking Burns’ municipal judge to step in as needed.

Erwin also reported that she’s been “trying to get up to speed” by reading council minutes and city ordinances, and she’s been working with the city attorney on two land use issues.

She also reminded the public that there will be positions open on the council next year. The deadline to file is Aug. 30.

•••

The council received a donation request from Celebrate Recovery of Harney County.

Phil Looney, a representative of the organization, explained that the funding will be used to send four members of the leadership team to The Summit, a training conference that will be held Aug. 10-12 in Lake Forest, Calif.

Celebrate Recovery of Harney County has existed for more than four years, supporting local families by proving a 12-step, faith-based recovery program that helps people with all types of addictions (not just alcohol and drugs). A general meeting is held weekly at Harney County Church of the Nazarene Friday evenings, and more intensive study groups are held throughout the week for men and women.

The council agreed to donate $150 to the organization.

•••

In other business, the council:

• received a report from Spence who said there had only been three 9-1-1 calls in the last two weeks, and a county-wide burning ban took effect July 1;

• approved and adopted Resolution 2216, which transfers monies between objects of expenditure for the 2015-2016 budget, due to unanticipated expenditures for a lump sum payout for accumulated vacation hours;

• adopted Resolution 2217, transferring $28,900 from General Fund City Hall to Capital Projects/General, as adopted in the 2015-16 budget.

Due to a shortfall in anticipated revenue, the council chose not to transfer $2,000 from Streets Fund to Capital Projects/Streets;

• approved and adopted Resolution 2218, accepting unanticipated and unbudgeted funds in the amount of $21,284.14 into General Fund Refunds and Reimbursements.

The funding is the state reimbursement and restitution for expenditures, affecting the city of Hines, that were caused by the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge;

• approved Looney’s business license application for Panda Cleaners.

Looney said the business will clean carpets and hard services such as tile, grout and concrete;

• per Jim Schultz’s request, agreed to place a copy of the finalized budget at the Harney County Library;

• received a request from Jeff Graham of MiWave to place equipment on the water tower.

MiWave plans to offer high-speed Internet services.

Concerned about compatibility with existing equipment, Bennett suggested that Graham consult with Eastern Oregon Technology;

• agreed to send Erwin to the 2016 Local Government Personnel Institute Annual Conference Aug. 17-18 in Salem;

• welcomed Erwin.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 12, at city hall.

Samantha White

Samantha White was born and raised in Harney County, and she graduated from Burns High School in 2005. After high school, she attended the University of Oregon where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in magazine journalism. White was hired as a reporter for the Burns Times-Herald in September 2012.

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