By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
It was all about the distance.
Keizer’s Medical Marijuana Facilities Task Force had its final scheduled meeting Tuesday evening at Keizer Civic Center, with the goal of coming up with a final recommendation to send to the Keizer City Council.
Originally the task force was given a deadline of May 1 to get that done, since councilors were tracking changes made to state laws regarding medical marijuana dispensaries. In the time since, however, councilors approved a moratorium on such facilities being allowed to open in Keizer until May 2015.
Still, members of the task force wanted to come up with a recommendation by the original deadline, in part because councilors could later move the moratorium’s end date forward.
State laws that went into affect earlier this year called for dispensaries to be 1,000 feet from any school, among other restrictions.
The task force recommended that number be increased to 1,500 feet.
Members looked at maps showing how many areas would be impacted if the distance away from schools was either 1,000 or 1,500 feet.
“With schools, for the most part I’m fine with 1,000 feet,” Jonathan Thompson said. “My only concern is the high school, with the business district close to it. McNary’s location in town is the one concern.”
McNary High School principal John Honey, a fellow task force member, shared the concern.
“Sandy Boulevard is problematic for the school, the community and the police department,” Honey said. “I recommend we move that boundary to 1,500 feet for schools which moves the boundary (from McNary) across River Road. It’s still in sight of kids leaving school, but it’s a better alternative than kids hanging in smoker’s alley on Sandy.”
Thompson suggested 1,000 feet for all schools except McNary, with a 1,500 foot boundary.
Evan Christopher noted the negligible impact on businesses if the boundary was extended elsewhere.
“It looks like not much business space is eliminated if we expand all schools to 1,500 feet,” Christopher said.
Based on that observation, Honey suggested at least middle schools also get a 1,500 foot boundary.
“Stuff from high school is trickling down,” he said.
Following more discussion, task force members agreed with the 1,500 foot boundary for all schools, in addition to 1,000 feet from public buildings. Members also agreed to not have a boundary around parks or daycares.
“I’m not concerned about toddlers wandering down the road,” Honey said. “We’re following the state law on all of these, except schools.”
Dennis Koho, the city councilor who chaired the task force, said the task force will be disbanded, but can be restarted if councilors want the topic looked into more.