A proposal to build a large marijuana production facility to the west of Redmond is likely headed for denial, following a lengthy deliberation from the Deschutes County Commission.
During a public meeting held Monday morning, county commissioners Tammy Baney and Phil Henderson expressed concerns about the application, which proposed a five-building, 28,000-square-foot development on SW Highland Avenue, about a mile west of Redmond’s urban growth boundary.
While the commission did not vote on the application during the meeting, Baney and Henderson said the application’s use of large amounts of hauled water, and its lack of compatibility with the surrounding area, made them unlikely to support it.
“This is a large commercial activity that is happening directly adjacent to a community,” Baney said during the meeting. “This needs to be very tight, in terms of an application, and I feel that there are deficiencies in it.”
The third commissioner, Tony DeBone, indicated he supported the application during the meeting.
“I don’t see any reason to deny this,” DeBone said.
Marijuana-related land use applications in Deschutes County often draw their share of criticism from neighbors, but the application’s proximity to Redmond drew a particularly strong response. Earlier this year, Redmond-based Evolution Concepts LLC submitted an application for four, 5,200-square-foot greenhouses, as well as an existing 4,200-square-foot building on the property that would be converted into office and storage space. The application was approved by county staff, and appealed by neighbor Wendie Every in October.
During public hearings held Oct. 30 and Nov. 8, neighbors criticized various aspects of the application, from its proposal to use hauled water to supply the property during the winter, to the industrial nature of the development. On Monday, Baney described attacks against the applicant’s character, which occurred during the public hearings, as “unfortunate.”
“I didn’t see anything in the record that gives me pause about the individuals that are part of this particular application,” she said.
Due to its proximity to Redmond’s urban growth boundary, the application also received criticism from the Redmond City Council, which identified the area as one the city could one day annex. Currently, all businesses within Redmond must be compliant with federal laws, which prohibit the sale of marijuana.
During the meeting, Baney noted that while the application provided documentation that it could use hauled water outside irrigation season, the size and scale of the operation gave her pause.
“What other crops are we watering, at that level, with municipal water?” Baney said.
Henderson added that the nature of the operation, which has similarities to industrial production, made it a poor fit for the residential character of the neighborhood.
Jacob Jenkins, a member of the Evolution Concepts LLC, declined to comment on the record.
Cynthia Smidt, associate planner for Deschutes County, said after the meeting that the county’s planning staff will prepare a decision denying the application, based on comments from the commissioners. Smidt added she’s expecting the commissioners to formally vote on the application by Dec. 27. She said the county is expecting the decision to be appealed to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.
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