A decision is expected in Thurston County next week about whether to allow marijuana operations within the required 100-foot buffer zone between residential zones and operations in commercial or industrial zones in buildings with an already permitted operation.
Thurston County Land Use Hearing Examiner Sharon Rice ruled in March the buffer was required within the building even if the building had an existing operation inside it. The decision was appealed to the Board of Thurston County Commissioners, who heard the issue Monday.
County Manager Ramiro Chavez said the commissioners went into a closed meeting Wednesday to discuss the appeal. A final decision is expected next week.
The issue arose from a building south of Tumwater owned by Terry Trafton of Thurston County. The commercial warehouse is divided into two sections leased to different producers or processors. The first grower was in operation before the interim regulations were extended in May 2016. The regulations have been extended two times since then.
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The extended ordinance stated, “Marijuana producers or processors shall have a minimum setback of 100 feet from a residential zoning district boundary. Existing structures with existing permitted marijuana operations are exempt from this setback.”
Before the May 2016 extension, an additional operation was approved by the county to operate in the second section of the building, 20 percent of which is within the buffer, according to the hearing examiner decision. In August, the county received the master application for the new operation, and Thurston County Assistant Planner Tammy Trager told the applicant they could not operate within the buffer and must build a demising wall at the 100-foot point. The hearing examiner agreed with the county on interpretation of the code.
The applicant argued they should be exempt from the buffer because the building already contained an operation and their permits were approved at the time the ordinance took effect.