Neighbors opposed to Newberg cannabis facility dealt setback

Special Reports

Land Use Board of Appeals upholds county decision. Neighbors' fight not over.

CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) — A group of neighbors trying to keep a hemp and marijuana operation out of Yamhill County were dealt another blow by LUBA, Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals.

A large and vocal coalition of residents has been opposing the planned operations on a 22.7 acre property located on Jaquith Road, a few miles north of Newberg, for about a year now. In a site design review approved by the county, the owners outlined 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.

Concerns about livability, odors, traffic, proximity to homes, possible chemical usage, a potential increase in crime, the continued federal illegality of marijuana and more have all been entered into the record and voiced publicly at hearings. Laura Cochran, the property’s nearest neighbor, spearheaded early efforts against the facility, claiming that allowing it to proceed would irreparably harm her disabled adult son, who she said will not be able to “tolerate the marijuana stench or hemp dust.”

In January, the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners expressed sympathy for the neighbors’ concerns, but unanimously upheld the planning commission’s earlier approval of the site design review, saying the facility is allowed under exclusive farm use zoning.

On August 19, LUBA affirmed the county’s decision.

“Unfortunately, we were not surprised by the decision,” petitioner Jill Anderson told KOIN 6 News in an email, adding that her attorney warned her early on that the case would likely have to go to the Court of Appeals. Opponents of the facility have until September 9 to file an appeal.

Land in Yamhill County where a hemp and marijuana processing facility is set to be built, Dec. 2, 2019. (Hannah Ray Lambert)

Yamhill County wasn’t surprised by the decision either. County counsel Todd Sadlo said processing of crops is allowed on a farm parcel and that marijuana is a crop.

WAG Holdings, LLC, which owns the property, did not immediately respond to KOIN 6 News’ request for comment.

Opponents are also trying to convince the Oregon Water Resources Department to deny the company’s application for water rights. More than 40 comments have been submitted so far, many centering on the concern that adding irrigation will further deplete an “already stressed aquifer.” Public comment ends Thursday, August 27.

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