Council also heard from library supporters

LEBANON — Wednesday evening, Lebanon became the second community in Linn County to enact a one-year moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, as councilors voted unanimously, although councilor Barry Scott was not present.

The moratorium allows the city to prevent people from opening medical marijuana dispensaries until May 2015.

The Brownsville City Council approved a moratorium ordinance at its March 25 meeting and the City of Sweet Home held the first of three ordinance readings Tuesday evening.

After weeks of discussion, the Albany City Council voted against a moratorium Wednesday evening.

Councilor Rebecca Grizzle said she has a lot of compassion for sick persons — especially cancer patients in the last days of their lives — for whom marijuana provides relief.

“But, we must do this smartly. There can be a lot of pitfalls,” Grizzle said. “This gives us time to watch it hashed out on the state level. We don’t need to be pioneers in this.”

Councilor Bob Elliott said he has been against medical marijuana dispensaries, but he has been talking with elected officials from other communities and is “willing to learn more about it” over the coming months.

In other business:

• Several dozen supporters of the Lebanon Public Library showed their support for keeping staff cuts to a minimum. Patrons became concerned in recent weeks after a news story and rumors spread that there were to be major staff cuts at the library. New City Manager Gary Marks said his first job as a teenager was at a library, and he and library director Carol Dinges are working to find solutions to budget and staffing problems. Supporters said projected staff cuts of 46 percent were not acceptable.

• Extended a tax abatement request from Selmet through the South Santiam Enterprize Zone. The company plans to expand and add up to 180 jobs.

• Adopted a 4-year $30 million capital improvement projects plan that had been discussed item-by-item last month. The major project on the list is the construction of a new water treatment plant.

• Approved vacating a right-of-way at 100 Market St. that has not been used or developed by the city.

• Approved water rate increases of 4 percent in 2014-15 and 2015-16, instead of a 15 percent increase originally planned last summer; also approved a 2.6 percent increase in wastewater fees; and approved a 2.6 percent increase in the storm water utility fee.

Alex Paul is the Linn County reporter for the Democrat-Herald. He can be contacted at 541-812-6114 or alex.paul@lee.net.

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