Neighbors object to 'pot farm' in west Oklahoma City
Neighbors on Tuesday protested in vain that a landowner’s plans to grow marijuana on a 10.8-acre tract in far west Oklahoma City would endanger their health, safety and property.
The city council voted 5-4 in favor of Jessie Escobar's request to rezone property in the 9000 block of West Wilshire Boulevard for agriculture.
Rachel Ruiz, who lives in a housing addition a couple of blocks east of Escobar, said she brought her two youngest children to the council chamber at City Hall, where one held a sign reading, "Just say no to residential pot farms and reverse discrimination."
"I'm a voter, I'm a Marine veteran, a teacher, wife and mother of soon-to-be-six children," she said.
She complained that Escobar's property, a half-mile east of the John Kilpatrick Turnpike, is surrounded by residences.
"Crops of marijuana and crops of potatoes and tomatoes are entirely different," Ruiz said. The neighborhood, she said, is "a highly inappropriate place for a pot farm."
For his part, Escobar said in an interview that he planned to start his business with an indoor grow operation in a steel barn, with a steel door. There are no plans to plant marijuana outside, he said, and no plans for a retail shop.
City staff counted about a dozen neighbors who sent in complaints.
The neighborhood is classified for "urban low-intensity" uses in the city's comprehensive development plan, Ward 1 Councilman James Greiner said. Agriculture is a compatible use under the comprehensive plan, Greiner said, and Escobar mentioned he grazes horses on his property.
Besides, Greiner said, the state law approved by voters to allow medical marijuana limits cities' regulatory authority.
Greiner said he voted against medical marijuana and would support a petition "that allows the state and cities and counties to regulate it appropriately but at this point we can't."
"I am a big-time property rights guy and I'm a big-time rule-of-law guy," Greiner said, and to deny the application would be "changing the rules in the middle of the game."
After Kenneth Jordan, the city attorney, said Escobar could appeal a denial in District Court, Greiner, Ward 2 Councilman James Cooper, Ward 6 Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon, Ward 8 Councilman Mark Stonecipher, and Mayor David Holt favored Escobar's request.
Councilmen Larry McAtee (Ward 3), Todd Stone (Ward 4) and David Greenwell (Ward 5), and Ward 7 Councilwoman Nikki Nice opposed it.