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Council tinkers with pot, parking policies

Cornelius City Council members wrangled with two thorny topics during a work session Monday night: parking in the downtown area and the sale and production of medical marijuana that will become legal in the city next May.

The need to update the city’s parking regulations came to light a couple weeks ago when staff at the busy Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center began parking on city streets after patients filled staff lots.

“The center told its employees they could no longer use the facilities parking lot,” said City Manager Rob Drake. “Its staff [members] were parking long-term in front of businesses.

“To help alleviate the problem we placed temporary signs in front of those businesses asking that these spaces not be used for long-term parking until an updated ordinance is in place.”

To help push the update forward, Community Development Director Mike Cerbone gave councilors suggested revisions to Chapter 10 of the city’s existing parking regulations:

n Prohibit parking vehicles with for-sale signs in the public right-of-way.

n Prohibit the parking of vehicles in the right-of-way that are not licensed or tagged.

n Provide better guidance for when police can tow improperly parked vehicles in the public right of way, including RVs, campers and trailers; post a notice of intended towing within 72 hours.

n Prohibit parking within 10 feet of mailboxes between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Changes to existing regulations would also include definitions for abandoned, disabled and recreational vehicles.

In an effort to make parking available for everyone, the council also discussed placing two-hour parking limits in busy retail and business areas.

Councilors also want to have a new ordinance in place when the city’s moratorium on the sale and production of medical marijuana expires on May 1, 2015.

“We need to add provisions that limit where medical marijuana can be grown and sold, and we need to set up specific buffer areas around schools,” said Carbone, who added that the city of Cave Junction, along with the Oregon League of Cities, recently sued the state for the right to establish buffer areas of 1,000 feet between dispensaries and school campuses.

Carbone suggested the city limit the sale of the drug to “C-2 Highway Commercial Industrial Zones,” which includes most of TV Highway where businesses like Fred Meyer are located.

The council decided against expanding buffer areas to 2,000 feet because of the possibility they would cut into retail areas, but included parks, licensed day care centers and churches along with local elementary schools and the Oregon Child Development Coalition of Washington County in a 1,000-foot buffer area.

Councilors also suggested limiting marijuana grow sites to the city’s industrial zones and agreed that retail sales in those zones would be permitted.

The revised parking ordinance and suggested content for a medical marijuana ordinance will advance to the city’s Planning Commission for discussion and approval.

“The Chapter 10 parking revisions could be ready to come before the city council in November,” Cerbone said, “and the medical marijuana ordinance before the end of the year.”

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