Newport: Medical Marijuana starting August 20th, a large Welcome to Newport sign and jump starting workforce housing in Lincoln County
Medical Marijuana coming to Newport August 20th
After some time to analyze the in’s and outs of medical marijuana dispensaries and adding a few regulations that the state did not apply to them, the Newport City Council Monday finally decided to debut dispensaries in Newport beginning August 20th.
The two dispensaries that are being readied for opening are “Canna Medicine” on NW 15th, just west of 101, and “This, That & Other Things” downtown on the west side of 101 between Lee and Hurbert. There could be more. Canna Medicine was ready to open last March but was stopped when the city council enacted a moratorium on the process, saying they needed more time to figure out the best way forward, since the state ruled that there will be legal marijuana dispensaries in Oregon.
The Council decided that the state rules didn’t go far enough. First, the council will require criminal background checks not only on the owners and operators of the dispensaries, but also on everyone who works there. The Council will also require that any intrusion alarm that goes off means the police department is notified – not just the dispensary’s alarm company. The dispensary will also have to give Newport Police access to the same records and surveillance video that state agents get to see. And they’ll have to get a business license with a medical marijuana dispensary endorsement.
In addition, the dispensaries will have to follow state regulations that prohibit any dispensary being closer than 1,000 feet from another dispensary, 1,000 feet from a school and cannot offer non-smoking cannabis medicinals in packaging that might be attractive to children.
Big City Welcome Sign Going Up in Downtown Newport
After nearly four years of talking, money wrangling, politicking and second-guessing as to what should be there, the Newport City Council has given the tentative go ahead to Frank Geltner of the City Center Newport Association and Lorna Davis, Executive Director of the Newport Chamber of Commerce to move ahead on a big welcoming LED electronic sign to face up and down 101 from Hubert and 101.
Not only will the sign greet visitors to Newport, but also will promote local and regional attractions and events coming up, giving many the motivation to stay in Newport a day or two – or five.
The proposed sign has been somewhat controversial in the past, some citizens decrying a bright LED display that they say looks more like Las Vegas than Newport. However supporters say the LED’s brightness can be accurately controlled so that sign messages are quite visible in the daylight but not overwhelmingly bright at night. They’ve also agreed that the sign will shut down every night at a decent hour and not be re-lit until morning.
City Manager Spencer Nebel stressed that the sign is being built with tourism room tax money and that the city will retain ownership of it. However, a third party, other than government, is expected to manage what is put on the sign, how it’s written and for how long of a run. The Chamber of Commerce is one of those entities taking a look at perhaps running the site.
The final go ahead on the project could be given at the second council meeting in August, the 18th, at which Newport citizens will be invited to participate in a public discussion about the sign, its purpose, method and hours of operation, events promoted and other advertising possibilities.
Newport Joins Lincoln City and the County in promoting affordable housing
The Newport City Council decided to join with Lincoln City and Lincoln County in forming a full time agency to promote affordable workforce housing in Lincoln County. Although just about every city in the county belongs to the Lincoln County Land Trust only Lincoln City, Newport and the County Commission have contributed serious money to the effort to begin creating affordable housing for working families. Officials from all three entities have long complained that housing prices are simply too high for many workers – even city and county workers due to a scarcity of housing.
Newport became the third entity to promise $30,000 a year to the Lincoln County Land Trust in order to hire a full time executive director who will then begin to do the work that will produce affordable homes. Newport Community Development Director Derrick Tokos told the council that a full time director can begin amassing surplus city and county lands, acquiring and rehabilitating tax foreclosure homes, establishing revolving loan funds, receiving land lease payments, etc.
County Commissioner Bill Hall says housing challenges are a drag on communities, especially when firemen, police officers and other emergency responders can’t afford to live in the communities they work for. The same for the private sector.
But City Councilor Ralph Busby stuck to his guns as he has in the past, by criticizing the idea that $270,000 raised between the three entities is not the best way to invest taxpayer dollars. He said only a fortunate few families are likely to benefit from the program. “You’d be better off just writing them a check for $50,000 and let’em buy their own home,” he said.
“Not so,” said Hall who pointed out that jobs created for housing rehabilitation, putting more valuable property on the tax rolls, acquiring new families with above average spending power and other elements to the local economy means multiple benefits to their communities.
Councilor Dick Beemer who frequently agrees with Busby’s viewpoints on things forcefully asked Hall, “What can we reasonably expect from a our multiple investments? How many houses over the next five years.” Hall quickly answered, “I’d like to see ten homes, maybe more – not all newly constructed but perhaps renovated tax foreclosure dwellings for young families. It also grows the tax base.”
The vote was 6 to 1 in favor, with councilor Busby the lone holdout. Commissioner Hall thanked the council, adding that with Newport joining the Lincoln Land Trust team they can now recruit an executive director who will put various financing, land, existing homes and homes yet to be built, into a plan of action. All three entities are also expected to be very active partners in offering up those ingredients that will help ease the terrible shortage of workforce housing in Lincoln County.