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Street vacation proceedings initiated
In busy regular session Wednesday night, the La Grande City Council voted to move an application for a street vacation forward, place a moratorium on downtown amenities and decided to consider an ordinance that would ban medical marijuana dispensaries.
A top item on the agenda was initiating vacation proceedings for K Avenue. Union County applied to the city to vacate the street from 5th Street to 6th Street in order to provide ample parking for the proposed courthouse. Mayor Daniel Pokorney said the council would not hear testimony on the matter, because the decision at that meeting was a procedural one of whether or not the council would accept or deny the petition.
During public comments, Union County Planning Director Hanley Jenkins said he didn't think that conforms with state law.
"We don't agree with that process," he said.
Judge Russ West was allowed to discuss the overall courthouse projects during public comments. He noted that a lot of money had been spent through the years to study the best placement for a court facility. In 2009, a court facility committee decided that the Union County campus was the best site, he said. The judge also noted that the Oregon Legislature twice denied funds for a new building and that failure to complete a site plan and start spending money by October could result in a loss of the $2 million in state funding.
When the street vacation came to a vote, the council, rather than send the application back as was recommended by the city's Parking, Traffic Safety and Street Maintenance Advisory Commission, decided to accept the application.
After a lengthy discussion, the council also voted to place a moratorium on placement of downtown amenities. The moratorium is intended to give La Grande Main Street, which is part of the regulatory process to have furnishings placed on the sidewalk, more time to consider the placement and aesthetics of the fixtures. The moratorium applies to permanent features, those bolted into the sidewalk, and will last until May 20 or until Main Street has the details of the amenities straightened out, whichever occurs first. Main Street representatives said a consultant would be in La Grande in April to help with the process.
Near the end of the meeting City Manager Robert Strope asked the council for direction on whether councilors would be interested in considered a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries. During the recent legislative session, a bill was passed that gives municipalities authority to limit the dispensaries, but they must be enacted by May 1, Strope said.
On a 4-3 vote the council decided they would consider the ordinance.
See more in Friday's edition of The Observer.