Pubdate: Fri, 11 Dec 2015
Source: Mail Tribune, The (Medford, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Mail Tribune
Note: Only prints LTEs from within it's circulation area, 200 word count limit
Author: Vickie Aldous


Planning Commissioners Will Debate Proposed Regulations After Two 
Days of Testimony

Marijuana growers would have to own a water right for large 
operations, establish buffers between neighbors, install odor 
filtration systems on buildings and refrain from camping out next to 
grows to guard their crops under proposed regulations before the 
Jackson County Planning Commission.

The commission heard testimony today and Dec. 3 and will debate the 
proposed rules at 9 a.m. Monday in the Jackson County Courthouse 
Auditorium, 10 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford. Their recommendations will 
then go before the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.

Jackson County Watermaster Travis Kelly spoke at today's meeting to 
shed light on the contentious issue of water use for marijuana crops.

In general, landowners are allowed to use well water on a half-acre 
of noncommercial gardens and lawns. A water right would be required 
for the commercial growing of marijuana, Kelly said.

Growers with the right to use water from local irrigation districts 
may not receive enough water. Irrigation districts typically have 
water flowing through their canals from May through September, but 
the marijuana growing season often stretches outside the irrigation 
district season, Kelly said.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is requiring that growers use 
water legally.

Growers could pay to have water trucked to their sites under county 
regulations, which also would require that growers follow water laws.

While some neighbors are coexisting peacefully as the marijuana 
industry explodes, others have become enemies.

Jacksonville area homeowner Doug Burck said his dream property became 
a nightmare when his neighbor planted marijuana - which has a 
skunk-like odor as it matures - and installed noisy greenhouse fans. 
He said his well also has begun to pull up sand, a sign groundwater 
is being depleted.

"Some properties simply shouldn't be growing pot," said Burck, 
advocating for strong regulations.

His neighbor, Ray Moeves, said the situation has destroyed their relationship.

"We were good friends at the time," Moeves said of the time before he 
put up greenhouses.

Moeves said he took numerous steps to try and resolve the problems, 
including installing insulation and using hay bales to try and dampen 
the fan noise. He raised his greenhouse walls to improve circulation 
and reduce the buildup of heat.

Meanwhile, Lisa DiPaoli of Ashland said she grows 24 medical 
marijuana plants. Her neighbor, who is a patient, enjoys visiting her 
garden and her chickens, DiPaoli said.

Kent Gutches, who lives along Crater Lake Highway, told planning 
commissioners he plans to become a grower and believes the marijuana 
industry can become the biggest economic boost Oregon has ever seen. 
But he said neighbors should not have to smell marijuana or listen to fans.

"We need rules," Gutches said.

However, he said proposed 250-foot buffers between marijuana plants 
and property lines of adjacent properties are too wide. The widest 
proposed buffers would apply to land that is zoned rural residential. 
Gutches proposed buffers between plants and neighboring houses, 
rather than property lines.

Whatever regulations the county adopts, someone will be unhappy, 
Gutches predicted.

Medical marijuana grower Tere Knight said wide buffers would 
eliminate grows on small pieces of property and favor large corporations.

Gold Hill medical marijuana grower Owen Christiansen said 250-foot 
buffers are not feasible, and growers should be allowed to have tents 
or trailers near grows. He said he parks a trailer next to his 
marijuana to prevent theft.

"Marijuana is a valuable commodity," Christiansen said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom