Grants Pass, Oregon
In Grants Pass, Oregon, land located in an urban unincorporated rural residential area is being used for the sole purpose of growing marijuana and the only building on this land is a moveable trailer. These properties are located among families and elderly and are overtaking this community.
Below is a letter of complaint from a local citizen in that area who is very concerned and alarmed about marijuana grows and the impacts that they will continue to have on their public safety, quality of life, and property values.
Letter to the editor, the Daily Courier, Grants Pass, Oregon
On May 15, 2015, Josephine County Commissioners declared a drought emergency. Local water experts say this could be the driest year in Josephine County in the last three decades and the lowest snow pack in the county’s history, yet permits for marijuana grows are being handed out without discretion. You might think this grow frenzy won’t affect you but consider this: a single marijuana plant requires 6 gallons of water a day for an average 150 day growing season. That amounts to 900 gallons of water per plant, multiply that by 45 plants in a legal grow and your neighbor has just sucked up 40,500 gallons of water. Have the county supervisors considered this? If not, then they’re not paying attention. Will these growers that have bought vacant lots in residential areas be held accountable when their neighbor’s wells run dry? More than likely they’ll just cut and run leaving neighborhoods devastated. We need laws restricting grows in residential areas of the county where home owners will be threatened by the loss of their water supply not to mention contamination due to the uncontrolled use of fertilizers and pesticides.
Melissa Bear, Grants Pass
Below is just one of hundreds of cases throughout the Country and in Oregon in which large marijuana grows are being allowed to be grown in both city and rural residential areas.
Property owners who have lived the last 16 years next to an Equestrian Center, reveal what it is like living next to a marijuana grow site.
During the summer of 2014 the Equestrian Event Center was purchased and the new owner in a local community CPO meeting indicated that he was allowing medical marijuana to be grown in the center by growers from Washington State. The equestrian center sits on an 14 acre parcel on Hwy 26 and is surrounded by 7 rural residential homes. This property is also located less than 700' away from a large Church who has a full-time registered educational school where there are many children.
In October of 2015, bordering the back side of the equestrian center they planted an estimated 96 plant outdoor medical marijuana grow which was not fenced, has easy open access to robbers and burglars, easy access by kids, is within 500’ from a large church with a full time school, and was in public view of those traveling on the church road located within 100 feet of this marijuana grow. In Oregon’s original medical marijuana program, medical marijuana grows were not allowed to be in public view as it tends to normalize, advertise, and condone marijuana use, and because marijuana is subject to theft since it is a high price “crop”, as susceptible to theft by youth for both use and sale, and it is harder to control and regulate, and poses a lot of environment impacts with water usage, pesticide use and other unknown impacts in our rural residential areas.
Oregon legalized marijuana in 2014 and Oregon’s new HB3400 law which was implemented March 1, 2016 it has redefined marijuana as an agricultural crop and local counties and cities have authority to regulate marijuana land use laws in various zones and every County and City that opted in allowing marijuana cultivation, processing, wholesaling and retailing has their own set of land use and required permit regulations. Medical marijuana grows that were in existence prior to the March 1, 2016 rules are required to follow the former existing medical marijuana rules, which means that no medical marijuana grows are to be visible to the general public, yet these medical marijuana plants were visible to the general public.
HB3400 does not allow you to smoke marijuana in public view or in a public place.
Definitions Section 1 (28) “Public place” means a place to which the general public has access and includes, but is not limited to, hallways, lobbies and other parts of apartment houses and hotels not constituting rooms or apartments designed for actual residence, and highways, streets, schools, places of amusement, parks, playgrounds and [premises] areas used in connection with public passenger transportation.
So in this case, the former Mt. Hood Equestrian center new owner when they purchased the property were hoping to turn the 98,000 sg.ft. horse arena into leased out marijuana production and processing center. They have also applied to Clackamas County planning and zoning for a change of use permit to use the equestrian for a recreational marijuana grow and marijuana processing.
PROPERTY VALUE IMPACT TESTIMONY PROVIDED BY PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR
As an illustration, below is a testimony that was given by this property owner to local County officials.
"Distinguished guest speakers, government officials, citizens and friends of Boring and Clackamas Fire Department and our moderator.
I have lived in Oregon and the Tri-County area for 48 years – 33 of those years in the country on acreage. My 3 girls grew up with farm animals and their ponies and horses. When I purchased this house on Lariat Lane – it was because of the Equestrian Center, even so it was right off Hwy. 26. My grand-children spent every week-end with us and their 3 pet goats and lamb. Huge trucks and trailers coming from as far as Montana and Idaho - loaded with horses, would rumble past the house and we'd watch the horses being unloaded and loaded and trained. 4-H group kids and their parents would show up to rope steers delivered to the back of the barn. There are a couple other people who also bought homes bordering the Equestrian property - because of the closeness to the horse barn. This was a rather "whole-some" experience, including the manure piles.
Let me tell you what it's like to live in my house now - after an illegal pot grow center moved into the barn:
Now - when we sit in our living room, which overlooks the barn, for our morning coffee - we now overlook a security fence, a security gate and several sets of security cameras.
One of these motion detection cameras, including a bright light - is posted next to their gate - adjacent to our property line and drive way entrance and is pointed toward our easement road and the total east side of our house, the garage door, our drive-way and out-building and part of the garden area. If you come to visit us - you will be filmed and you will be on tape and your license plate can be checked to see who you are. Big brother has arrived in Boring. When I walk out of my garage for any reason – to walk my dog or carry my garbage down to the end of my driveway, or to work in my garden - I am being filmed. I consider that an intrusion/invasion of my privacy.
Since I was born and raised in a country where everyone was spied on by the Nazi regime – this is extremely un-nerving to me. Anyone not aware - that a security gate was erected next to our drive-way, with 2 signs reading: "Video Surveillance" – "Trespassers will be prosecuted", can't turn around, unless they utilize part of either one of our driveways. This easement now has become a dead-end road, since there is no gate return. If this federally illegal grow center is allowed to operate – in this location – our quality of life will continue to unravel, our property values will go down the drain and our safety with only two police officers covering this area and stretching all the way up to Mt. Hood will endanger our lives and that of our visitors. This is just the beginning of what's to come, if grow centers are allowed directly adjacent to residential homes.
I am not here to vilify the young men who are growing the pot – we have met them, they could be your children and/or grand-children and are polite young men, who are enabled by others by giving them the lease and therefore the space. I understand that measure 91 marijuana legalization was passed in Oregon – therefore, please, please distinguished guests speakers– GET IT RIGHT – before it goes into effect. (8)
Although many innocent voters have been misled by out-of-state highly funded ballot initiatives that push the so-called medical marijuana scheme and the tax and regulate marijuana scheme, many citizens like myself who have observed the impacts first hand are standing up nationwide to bring a strong awareness to these deceptive attempts to try and ignore the impacts to public safety, quality of life, and property values. Drugged driving, diversion to other States, destruction to the environment, diversion to minors, public consumption, robberies, burglaries, fatal shootings, odors, increased traffic, fires, hash oil explosions are just a few of the impacts that marijuana leaves behind. The scheme of medical marijuana and marijuana legalization leads to the degradation of our neighborhoods and it is important that we take this information and begin to inform our communities."
(8)Gartner, Monika. Testimony: Let me tell you what it's like to live in my house now - after an illegal pot grow center moved into the barn. Letter to the author. 23, April, 2015.
UPDATE: on May 18th 2018 the neighbor in this area filed a civil federal RICO lawsuit against this property owner for growing marijuana, as marijuana is a federally illegal drug. See details under citizen letters.
Another former destination spot on Highway 26 went to pot.
THE FORMER OREGON CANDY FARM - once a historic candy making farm
The old, historic, and famous 7.11 acre Oregon Candy Farm has been purchased by people from California for $460,000 and it has been turned into a pot growing flammable ethanol marijuana processing facility that infuses candy/edibles and is making hash, concentrates, extracts, and oils. It is surrounded by rural residential properties. These types of facilities belong in the industrial zones.
THE SMALL TOWN OF ALFALFA OREGON’S RURAL HISTORY
Alfalfa is an unincorporated farming community in Deschutes County, Oregon in the high desert 16 miles east of Bend. Alfalfa was named for the primary forage crop grown there under irrigation. Alfalfa had a post office from 1912 until 1922. The ranching community has a population of about 400 families.
Alfalfa’s 80-day growing season limits the local ranchers to growing grass and alfalfa, and because the crop yields are so low, the grass is considered somewhat more suitable for grazing livestock-most commonly cattle-than for haying. The Alfalfa irrigation district was formed in the early 1900’s, and many of the local ranch houses date to that time. The Central Oregon Canal passes through the community.
40 acres has been purchased by a Florida investor for $100,000 on Jan. 9, 2015 who registered as an Oregon LLC named Elite Soil LLC on Jan. 2, 2015, according to public records. On a portion of this land the new owner has constructed an estimated 300’ x 700’ compound surrounded by an 8-10’ high non see through cyclone fence, topped in its entirety with three tiers of barbed wire. Clearly visible is also the construction of a large metal framed greenhouse structure. There is also being installed a security gate at the entrance to this property. Through evidence it is clear that this property will be used for a large commercial marijuana grow operation, therefore impacting this historical small rural farming community and their property values.
One might ask how someone else's growing and using marijuana affects your property values?
Using Oregon as an example, the Oregon Health Authority revealed that there were over 46, 570 medical marijuana growers in the State of Oregon growing marijuana for over 71,000 cardholders, 3,448 of those unregulated, unlicensed, and untaxed grows are in Clackamas County as an example and the graph below shows how many are located in each City. This means that marijuana grows can be grown just about anywhere, in your neighbor's house, barn, garage, basement, and yard.
Marijuana grow June of 2015, all trees cut down and grow site prepared for an estimated 100 plants
CASE STUDY TUMALO-DESCHUTES COUNTY 20 ACRES OUT OF STATE INVESTORS FROM OHIO
As you can see in the photo, the greenhouse which is full of pot plants is less than 100’ away from the neighbor’s home and the neighbors are furious that there are no regulations that provide neighbor notification, nor are there any required conditional use permits, or odor and nuisance controls. You can see that the big fan blows through this green house and neighbors say that the smell is so bad that it is difficult being in the area. The owners of the pot grow have little concern for the impacts to neighbors.
Oregon’s House Bill 3400 has redefined marijuana as an agricultural farm crop even though it is a federally illegal drug, which means that it is just like a tomato or a potato and can be planted in exclusive use farm areas without regulations.
PROTECT PROPERTY VALUES