Commissioners OK recreational marijuana shop

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home Planning Commission voted 5-1 to approve a conditional use application for Going Green, 925 Main St., to convert from a medical marijuana dispensary to a retail recreational marijuana outlet Monday evening.

Voting to approve the conditional use permit were commissioners Thomas Herb Sr., Anay Hausner, Chairman Lance Gatchell, Eva Jurney and Edie Wilcox.

“This is against federal law, so I’m against it, period,” said Commissioner Greg Stephens, who voted against the conditional use permit, during Planning Commission discussion after the public hearing closed.

Among criteria in the city ordinances, a conditional use must comply with the requirements of city code, state law and federal law.

“We will see more traffic,” Wilcox said during the commission’s discussion. “It will bring more people to town. I think it’s a good thing.”

“I’m good,” Hausner said.

“I see where parking is a concern,” Jurney said.

“My only concern is the traffic,” Herb said. “That can be a very busy place especially during the summer.”

The current store location has 10 spaces shared between Going Green and a window tinting business.

Planner Carol Lewis told the commission that there is no requirement for parking in the C-1 zone, downtown commercial.

During the public hearing, Herb said he would like to see the exit from the parking lot marked right only.

He was concerned about traffic safety at the driveway with customers turning left onto Main Street. Owner Dustin Pomeroy said he would be happy to do that, and the commission included it as a condition of approval.

With everything that’s come before regarding restrictions and discussion about whether marijuana sales would be allowed in Sweet Home, the people voted to allow it, Gatchell said.

“We’re just representing the public, in my opinion.”

“I’m feeling pretty good,” said Pomeroy, who is a partner with Shawn Aman at Going Green, following the decision. “I think I’ll put in the application with OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates recreational marijuana).”

That process can take about eight weeks, Pomeroy said, but he’s heard that it’s moving a little more quickly. He hopes he’ll be able to open Going Green to the general public in April.

He told the commission that another Going Green in Albany, owned by a cousin, was the first in Linn County. Since then a second opened in Albany, and a third is preparing to open in Lebanon.

Sweet Home will be the fourth in the county, he said. In Albany, switching from medical to recreational marijuana has resulted in large increases in customer traffic, but with the others opening around the county, he expects an increase in Sweet Home but doesn’t think it’ll be as large.

He thinks Sweet Home will draw business from the Highway 228 area, from Sweet Home to Brownsville, he said.

“(It) will benefit the town by a 3-percent tax on everything that’s recreational,” Pomeroy said, and it will provide an additional 17 percent tax to the state, which is shared with cities.

Going Green will continue to supply people who have medical marijuana cards tax free, Pomeroy said, but no one will be allowed in the building who is younger than 21.

Currently, as a medical dispensary, the lobby is open to the public, while the locked dispensary area is not, and people younger than 21 can purchase medical marijuana if they have a medical marijuana card.