The city is processing an application to use a large building in Ashland’s historic Railroad District for an indoor marijuana grow and retail location.
The Oak Street Tank & Steel Building, located at 181 A Street, could be become Ashland’s fifth retail dispensary and first to combine sales with an indoor marijuana farm.
A notice of a permit application was recently posted in front of the building, until a year ago headquarters for Plexis Healthcare Systems. The Ashland Planning Department also sent out copies of the notice to the neighborhood within 200 feet of the building, inviting public inputs.
The deadline for written comments is Friday, Nov. 17, at the end of the day. So far, the department has received three.
The applicant is required to obtain a conditional use permit and site design review from the Planning Department. The prospective business must be in compliance with district zoning.
“We are still in the process of evaluating the application where we look a variety of things at the property,” said Maria Harris, Ashland planning manager. “But we don’t have any concerns at this point.”
The Planning Department, working with other city departments, will also have to evaluate the city’s capacities to provide water, sewer, electricity, urban storm drainage, transportation, as well as assess the application’s potential effect to the neighborhood, Harris said.
The 6,000-square-foot building served as healthcare software company Plexis’ headquarters for for roughly a decade until November last year when the company moved to Medford. The building, still owned by Plexis, has been left empty since.
Representatives from Plexis told the Tidings in November 2016 that the owner and CEO of the company, Jorge Yant, wanted the building to be “right for the city and him as the owner, while staying within our vision of helping the community.”
The application was first filed by Drew Borrensen in August; Yant’s name was listed in the November notice, but Harris said it doesn’t mean Plexis is investing in the cannabis industry.
“We require the property owners to sign the papers, but they could be the property managers and it’s not necessarily that they will run the business,” Harris said. “Once they obtain the permits from us, then they will have to disclose the business owner to our business registry.”
The application falls under what is called “Type I” procedure. Per Ashland ordinance, Planning Division staff allows a 14-day public comment phase, then will decide to either deny or approve the application within 45 days of the application’s completion.
Harris said the department will make the decision within this month, after taking all public inputs into consideration. If approved, the applicant will be able to applying for marijuana licenses with Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
Will Volpert, owner of Indigo Creek Outfitters across the street from the A Street building, said via email that he opposed the prospective business.
“We feel that there are numerous other locations in the Rogue Valley that would be much more appropriate for this facility,” Volpert wrote. “You don't see marijuana facilities in front of schools... and you shouldn't see them encroaching on any other established family-oriented business like ours.”
The Tidings reached out to other businesses in the neighborhood without immediate response.
A Plexis spokesperson didn’t respond Wednesday to a Tiding’s inquiry about the application.
Affected property owner and tenants within 200 feet of the building can submit written comments to Ashland Planning Division at 51 Winburn Way prior to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 17.
— Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Tran Nguyen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-776-4485. Follow her on twitter @nguyenntrann.