BEND, Ore. - It’s a landmark land--use decision for Deschutes County. County commissioners on Wednesday denied a permit for a proposed recreational pot grow east of Bend.
Neighbors filed the appeal in January, making this the first time a marijuana-related land use appeal has been brought before the commission.
Applicant Roy Rubio’s attorney, Lisa Klemp, spoke on his behalf.
"I think the commission’s decision is disappointing,” she said.
Rubio initially intended to build a recreational marijuana production facility on his Alfalfa Market Road property. County commissioners approved his application, but neighbors Monika and Lance Piatt filed the appeal shorty after.
"It's my understanding that this was denied because there was insufficient information turned in by the applicant,” Monika Piatt said.
According to Klemp, it’s the county's fairly new marijuana land-use code that’s insufficient.
"It's unfortunate being the first out of the gate," she said. "It would be nice if the county had a more clear stance on where they do stand on marijuana grow operations, because I think it's touted throughout the state that Deschutes County is marijuana grow-friendly. Looking at this application and the deliberation we just saw for about two hours, I don't think that that's quite the case."
The permit rejection centered around power-supply concerns.
"They made a lot of comments that the application didn't dress things like loads for electric capacity and things like that, but in fact, the code doesn't ask applicants that,” Klemp said.
Other things like odor, noise and increased traffic also factored into the decision. After wresting with the public’s concerns and reviewing the land use code, commissioners denied Rubio’s permit.
The decision could be an important victory for people trying to keep marijuana grows away from their rural homes.
"This was our neighborhood that filed the appeal, but the rural residential population is all being affected by this," Piatt said. "Any time a property comes up for sale, it's like, 'What's next?'”
Wednesday's vote doesn’t mean the fight is over.
After the county finalizes this decision within the next few weeks, Rubio will be able to file his own appeal to the state Land Use Board of Appeal, or reapply for his permit.