Kowitz Road pot farm proposal gets thumbs up from state

After an appeal of a decision by the Linn County, the state Land Use Board of Appeals ruled Nov. 13 in favor of Kaya Holdings’ proposal to establish a marijuana grow and manufacturing facility on 26½ acres at 34225 Kowitz Road in Lebanon. 

According to an opinion written by Land Use Board member H. M. Zamudio, a Medford attorney, the Linn County Planning Commission “erred” in denying Kaya Holdings’ application because it relied on “considerations not found in any applicable approval criteria.” 

Zamudio wrote that Linn County’s decision was “outside the range of discretion allowed the local government under its comprehensive plan and implementing ordinances.” 

Linn County was not represented at the hearing, according to Zamudio’s report. 

Florida-based Kaya Holdings produces, distributes or sells legal premium medical and recreational cannabis products, including flower, concentrates and oils, and cannabis-infused foods.

It filed an appeal earlier this year against the denial of its site plan application by the Linn County Planning Commission. The plan proposed to site two buildings for marijuana production and up to 10 hoop houses for outdoor marijuana production. 

County Planning Director Robert Wheeldon approved the application, with conditions, after reviewing comments from “concerned surrounding property owners,” according to the LUBA report. 

That approval was then appealed to the Planning Commission, and during the hearing “more than one commission member stated their belief that marijuana should not be farmed in Linn County, based on negative personal experiences with marijuana production,” according to the LUBA report.

Commissioners found that Kaya “did not provide adequate information to show how odor from the hoop houses would be mitigated” and that the company failed to prove that its proposed filtration system “would comply with code and mitigate odor impacts on surrounding properties.”

Opponents had expressed concerns about the effects of contaminated water runoff from the marijuana production and its effect on surrounding farming and a nearby creek. 

LUBA members agreed with Kaya’s arguments that the Planning Commission was relying on laws that didn’t apply to the specifics of the company’s application and lacked “applicable criteria” to make the determination to deny the application.