Residents spar over medical pot grow

By Kelly Black, Observer correspondent October 04, 2013 10:08 am

Cove City Council, Oct. 1 - YouTube

COVE — Neighbors in Cove are sharply divided over the impact of medical marijuana being grown in their neighborhood.

“The smell is terrible,” said Cove resident Lonnie McLucas. “It is an unauthorized business. It is a nuisance in the city.”

Other neighbors do not agree.

“As far as I know, in the State of Oregon it is legal to grow with a growers’ cards,” said Cove resident Chris Haefer. “I don’t like it, but they are not distributing and it is not a nuisance.”

Teresa and Lonnie McLucas brought their complaint to the Cove City Council Tuesday night hoping the city would shut down the growing operation in their neighborhood.

“I own my property. I pay taxes,” Teresa McLucas said. “I should be able to stand out in my front yard and not smell rotten skunk and get headaches and feel sick.”

To control a heated exchange between neighbors, Council President Regina Kruse repeatedly had to ask members of the public to address the council and speak one at a time. 

Part of what is being contested is the number of plants being grown on the property — one neighbor claimed 74 plants and another 200 — and the alleged use of chemicals. 

Teresa McLucas told the council that her house has been inundated with pesticides.

“My house was so filled with pesticides from him spraying over there that my eyes were swollen,” she said. “My voice was changed, my tongue swollen and I had to go to the doctor.”

McLucas said the doctor gave her antibiotics. As a breast cancer survivor with a heart condition, she is concerned about exposure to pesticides and chemicals.

“If we want to pursue the issue of a nuisance as far as a smell, we have to take a look at the ordinance,” Kruse said.

City Recorder Donna Lewis told the McLucases that the process starts with sending a letter to the council.

Haefer told the council there is not a horrendous smell nor use of chemicals.

“I believe that if they are not breaking laws, this is America. They own the property, they have every right to do whatever they are going to do,” Haefer said.

The McLucases accused the council of allowing an unauthorized business. They were previously denied a business permit by the city.

If the property owner is distributing marijuana to other medical marijuana cardholders, then they may have to apply to the city for a business license. 

“If the sheriff has evidence of either a documented distribution card or activity, then we have to take a look at the city business permit process to see if this is a definition of a business,” Kruse said.

The application for a business license within the city involves a public hearing process that would allow neighbors, like the McLucases, to voice concern about the impact of the commercial enterprise on their neighborhood.