PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville is earning accolades for efforts to involve citizens in decisions surrounding marijuana regulations. Planning Director Phil Stenbeck says City Councilors and staff spent months holding workshops and public meetings before setting land use rules.
But, he believes it's an online survey that drew the attention of state officials. "It was security coded. So, it was anonymous and it was logged in so it couldn’t be copied or repeated, say, by an interest group that had one interest or another in terms of trying to affect the survey. What was really interesting about that particular survey, it provided anonymity for a subject many consider taboo. So, 550 homes in Prineville responded with their comments that ranged both for and against." Stenbeck tells KBND News, "Involvement in other communities, in terms of development of the marijuana regulations that many communities have put together probably didn’t have that much involvement. When you involve 15% of your population in creation of land use regulation, that’s noteworthy. Usually you do not have that level of participation."
The input led to rules for medical dispensaries, and a decision to maintain a ban on recreational pot unless and until the drug is legalized at the federal level.
Last week, the city was given the STAR award for citizen involvement from Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development. Stenbeck says, "One of the important pillars of Oregon’s land use programs is involving citizens when you’re creating or changing your comprehensive plan or your zoning ordinance. In this case, we changed our comprehensive plan and we created medical marijuana regulations and recreational marijuana regulations, and we outreached in a manner that hadn’t been done before."