Councilors also requested a zoning change to continue ban on medical pot dispensaries in Weed
Nearly everyone in the audience during Thursday’s Weed City Council meeting raised a hand, when asked, to indicate their dissatisfaction with the Forest Service’s Travel Management Plan, which has closed many forest roads to motorized vehicles.
City attorney Bob Winston will draft a resolution stating the city’s opposition to the plan for council consideration at their next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 10.
Mayor Bob Hall and councilors Ken Palfini, Stacey Green, Chuck Sutton and Dave Pearce also directed the planning commission to change zoning laws in order to keep medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in the city, and finance director Kelly McKinnis announced the city has been awarded a $1.5 million CDBG grant for water system infrastructure.
Road closure protest
The issue of road closures on National Forest lands was brought forward by Dorris residents Sean Smith and David Andreatta, who said they plan to visit every city council and chamber of commerce in Siskiyou County to alert them to the changes in the forest road system.
Smith and Andreatta said the closures threaten Dorris’s economy by limiting firewood cutting areas and opportunities for camping, hunting, mushroom hunting and other tourism-related recreation.
They say the closures are impeding equal access for all citizens and will have “a devastating impact on the citizens” and economy of all Siskiyou County.
“Personally, I couldn’t agree with you more,” said Hall. “The government encroachment is bizarre.”
Smith, who sells firewood for a living, said he was unaware of changes to the system until he went to get his wood tags this year. The closures of many roads went into effect in March, when the Forest Service released its Motorized Vehicle Use Map. The map shows only those roads legally open to motorized travel.
Smith and Andreatta contend that the citizens of Siskiyou County were not adequately informed of changes. They hope that if the county’s city councils and chambers band together, they can put pressure on the Board of Supervisors to “do the will of the people” and “ask the Forest Service to give us controlling interest in what they are doing to our community.”
The Dorris City Council in May passed a resolution formally protesting the Travel Management Rule. Smith asked the Weed councilors if they would be interested in doing something similar.
Councilor Sutton said he doesn’t regularly use Forest Service roads, but he’s “all in favor of it.”
Councilor Pearce said he’s “100 percent with Dorris.”
Weed’s Rob Moser pointed out the new MVUMs and the Travel Management Rule present problems for emergency response, and because only those roads open to motor traffic are shown, they are impossible to navigate and dangerous for those unfamiliar with the land.
Tod Wilson gave specific examples of roads which have had designations changed or closed and said the citizens are in jeopardy of losing access to public land.
Dean Harris said he believes the Forest Service violated the constitution by not coordinating with local agencies when they changed road designations, and Don McIntosh said the Travel Management Rule is part of Agenda 21.
Gary Fulmer said a group of concerned citizens has planned a meeting for Oct. 29 at Weed Elementary School, at about 6:30 p.m. He invited county leaders and city councilors to attend.
City Attorney Winston told the council that the Supreme Court has endorsed the practice of cities who wish to regulate the placement of medical marijuana dispensaries to do so through zoning.
The Weed City Council unanimously voted to direct the Planning Commission to draft brief changes to the zoning ordinances to keep medical marijuana dispensaries out of city limits.
Finance Director McKinnis said after “a number of years of hard work” the city has received a grant for “much needed” water infrastructure from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program.
The $1.5 million grant will be used to improve the city’s water delivery infrastructure.
The Weed City Council is scheduled to meet next on Thursday, Oct. 10 at 5:30 p.m. at 550 Main Street in council chambers.