by Lindy Williams
On Nov. 8, at 6:30 p.m., the Hines Common Council held their regularly scheduled meeting.
The court returned to an issue that Police Chief Ryan DeLange had brought to the court’s attention in the previous meeting, concerning complaints about the odor of private outdoor medical marijuana grows. City Administrator Judy Erwin addressed the court with her findings.
“The Oregon courts weighed in and said that [the smell of marijuana] can be described as a nuisance, but that it’s up to the cities to decide if it’s a nuisance or not,” Erwin said.
She reported that Pendleton had decided that the odor was a nuisance and the city ordinance stated that residents who privately grow marijuana had to make an attempt to contain the odor to their own property.
Mayor Nikki Morgan voiced that she had some concerns over labeling the odor as a nuisance.
She stated that she understood that marijuana is an unpleasant odor and she doesn’t like it herself. She also stated that she disliked cigarette smoke, and that many people disliked the smell of garlic. Morgan said that she was hesitant to pass an ordinance for marijuana odor because it opened doors to other smells being labeled as noxious. She encouraged neighbors to work out the problem of the odor amongst themselves.
“If we label marijuana odor as a nuisance, what’s next?” Morgan asked.
Councilor Loren Emang reminded the council that there are wildfire ordinances, a law that prevents cigarette smokers from smoking within 10 feet of a doorway, and other “hard lines” that prevent residents from certain activities. He said he didn’t see why those who smoked pot should be exempt from these types of laws.
“We’ve got to find a middle ground,” Emang said.
Fire Chief Bob Spence reminded Emang that the issue being discussed wasn’t the smell of the smoke, it concerned the smells of growing marijuana.
“The other two [wildfires and cigarette smoke] are health issues where the marijuana odor is not.” Councilor Rod Bennett said.
“Unless they have an allergy,” Morgan clarified.
The discussion continued with questions from the public and councilors about the grow operation that is planned to open in Hines, the smell of growing marijuana and other strong smells, and other marijuana concerns.
“Well, you know, when you have noise ordinances, you have a measure of that in decibels. When you have odors, it’s very difficult to set a standard,” Councilor Diane Rapaport said. “I don’t think you can really nail it down enough to pass an ordinance where we don’t get nailed for liability, because it’s very much a personal preference.”
Rapaport also brought up the motor coach that previously existed in Hines and the smells that existed during that time with no ordinance passed.
“It’s probably nothing that I’m going to do, because it’s not illegal. I mean, unless it’s something you guys want me to do as far as an ordinance goes. But they’re not doing anything wrong. At this point, all we have is the complaint from the neighbors,” DeLange said.
“Did the growers know about the complaint? Did the neighbors talk to the growers?” Morgan asked. DeLange said that they didn’t. Morgan stated that the growers should be informed that there had been a complaint against them.
“Well, like I said, they’re not doing anything wrong. So, I would have no reason to even tell them to think about doing something different because they’re not breaking the law. If the neighbor is smelling it and the three of us want to get together and maybe hash something out or see if there’s something we can do. But I’m just there as a middle person. It’s not against the law,” DeLange said.
DeLange stated that he didn’t want to go to someone’s home who had done nothing wrong.
Councilor Hilda Allison asked how Colorado had handled the smell of both growing and smoked marijuana. There was discussion of looking into how cities there had handled marijuana smells.
The council reemphasized that outdoor grows are legal statewide and private plants had nothing to do with Hines’ opt-in decision.
The council decided that they would readdress the issue if there were more complaints next year when the four-week long marijuana budding season, and subsequent smell, occurs.
Spence reported that the fire department had been called to a home struck by lightning.
“That was a first for me,” he said.
There was damage to the roof and electrical system of the home, and also minor damage to two neighbors.
He reported that Burn-to-Learn had been a success and that he was happy with the training the departments had received.
DeLange reported that domestic violence cases were down, but DUIs were up. He also stated that one of the patrol cars had broken down during a traffic stop.
“It’s costing us a lot of money. I’m hoping it lasts until next July,” DeLange said.
DeLange also reported that he’d been awarded a $5,000 DUI grant. He said that it was more than likely that the department would also be awarded a $3,000 speed grant and a $4,000 seatbelt grant.
He also wanted to remind residents that it is against city ordinance to burn leaves.
In other business, the council:
• approved Resolution 2220 – to accept grant revues from FEMA;
• heard a report from Acting Public Works Supervisor Jerry Lewellen via City Administrator Judy Erwin.
• approved the request to change the name and location for High Desert Cannabis Co. The new name for the distributor will be Tumbleweed Cannabis, and the new location will be the Egan’s Tavern building on 310 Hwy 20 N;
• awarded $30 beef certificates to city employees;
• discussed the upcoming eclipse and how it will effect Hines. Eastern Oregon, specifically John Day and Prairie City, will be the best place from which to view the eclipse and people who follow the eclipse will need places to stay;
• listened to a thank you letter from Harney Hope;
• discussed how the tax dollars from marijuana would be used. The council wished to ensure that the money went back into the various Hines departments, not the county departments.
The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 6:30 p.m.