Yamhill County approves controversial pot, hemp facility

Oregon

Neighbors who oppose the facility said their impassioned pleas fell on deaf ears

NEWBERG, Ore. (KOIN) — Planning commissioners in Yamhill County approved a controversial proposed hemp and marijuana processing facility.

The facility will be located 12 minutes outside downtown Newberg.

In late August, OreTex Farms, LLC submitted a land-use application, expressing the company’s wish to process hemp and recreational marijuana. OreTex is one of three limited liability corporations associated with the property (the others are JCB Farms, LLC and WAG Holdings, LLC). A site design review request was also submitted, in which the applicants stated their plan to grow 5-10 acres of hemp on the property, grow up to 10,000 square feet of marijuana indoors, and process both in separate buildings.

Land in Yamhill County where a hemp and marijuana processing facility is set to be built, Dec. 5, 2019. (KOIN)

This was all going on before the property officially sold. WAG Holdings, LLC bought the property for almost $2 million in a deed dated September 30.

Emotions were high at the Yamhill County Planning and Development Commission hearing on Thursday.

Laura Cochran is hugged by those who oppose a pot and help facility in Yamhill County, Dec. 5, 2019. (KOIN)

Many members of the public are concerned about livability, water usage, odors, traffic, noises, proximity to homes, possible chemical usage, a potential increase in crime and more.

They said their impassioned plea to the planning and development commissioners fell on deaf ears.

Laura Cochran lives next to the property. She filed a request and paid $250 for a hearing after the county sent notice of the application to those living near the proposed site in mid-September.

Neighbors who oppose a hemp and pot processing facility in Yamhill County said their pleas fell on deaf ears at a planning commissioners meeting, Dec. 5, 2019. (KOIN)

Cochran has a child with autism and she fears noises coming from the new facility will be detrimental to his health. She told KOIN 6 News she was asked to leave when she tried to talk to commissioners after Thursday’s meeting.

“The lady on the end, she said I was being disruptive. She said, ‘Why are you here?’ and I said, ‘Because I’m the mom of the noise-sensitive son whose bedroom is 37 feet from this,'” Cochran said.

Neighbors who banded together to block the 22-acre facility said they were upset that not only were the plans approved — but Commissioner John Abrams worked to strike the recommendation to only allow certain shipping activities from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Yamhill County planning commissioners approve a controversial pot and hemp processing facility, Dec. 5, 2019. (KOIN)

Kerry Sullivan opposes the facility, calling it a “free for all.”

“It’s one of the worst things for the neighborhood, I think,” she said.

KOIN 6 News asked Commissioners John Abrams and Matt Dunckel why they made the decision they did.

“Because marijuana is a legal agricultural crop,” said Abrams.

Yamhill County planning commissioners approve a controversial pot and hemp processing facility, Dec. 5, 2019. (KOIN)

When asked if there is anything neighbors can do to stop the facility, Abrams responded: “Not that I’m aware of.” He added that they can’t limit one part of the agricultural industry and not others.

Cochran said she plans to appeal to the full board of commissioners in Yamhill County within the 15 days.

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