About a dozen people spoke during a public hearing late Tuesday on a proposal to permanently adopt zoning standards regulating state-licensed marijuana producers, processors and retailers in unincorporated Thurston County.
The Board of County Commissioners first adopted interim zoning regulations in November 2013, about the same time the state began accepting applications for recreational pot enterprises.
Since then, the county’s interim zoning regulations have gone through eight revisions, said associate planner Kraig Chalem.
“The proposed regulations have been shaped based on public input received during the Planning Commission process, and those comments received during each interim ordinance,” he told the commissioners at the hearing.
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Three speakers were with High Supply LLC, which is seeking a license from the state to produce and process marijuana on five acres off 140th Avenue Southwest near Tenino.
“There are several major concerns regarding the ordinance,” said John Murphy, one of the owners of High Supply. “No. 1: the county is trying to label marijuana processors as type 1 and type 2. Why did the county deviate from the state standards?”
Murphy said he is also concerned with the use of the word “industrial” in certain areas of the ordinance.
“We’re not (industrial); we’re agriculture,” he said.
Tanveer Sangha, owner of 5th House Farms, said a proposed setback that’s outlined in the ordinance would make it difficult to upgrade the facilities and processing at his state-licensed pot business, which operates on 11 acres off Old Highway 99 near Rochester.
“There’s all this red tape that comes with that that this proposition may severely limit and handcuff us,” he said.
But three other speakers urged commissioners to adopt tighter restrictions on marijuana operations, citing a variety of concerns, including safety, odor, impact on the rural character of a neighborhood and water quality issues.
Joan Fleming of Rochester said she thinks the county should require public notification when a new pot business has applied to move into a residential area.
“I’ve spoken about this before at your meetings, and I really think that is something that should happen when anything substantial impacts a neighborhood,” she said.
In 2012, state voters legalized recreational marijuana with the passage of Initiative 502. Recreational pot hit the market July 8, 2014.
The public can submit written comment on the proposed regulations through 5 p.m. Oct. 3. The county’s interim regulations expire Nov. 10.
Comment period continues
Written comments on the proposed permanent zoning regulations for state-licensed marijuana producers, processors and retailers can be submitted by 5 p.m. Oct. 3 to email@example.com or mailed to Land Use and Permitting, Attn: Kraig Chalem, 2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW, Olympia, WA 98502.
For more information, call the Commissioners Office at 360-786-5440.