WA: New Marijuana Ordinance

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On July 25 the King County Council passed an Ordinance re-regulating Marijuana businesses in the Unincorporated Areas and at the same time lifting its 4-mo Moratorium on such businesses.

Over the past two years the Area Council has hosted several standing-room-only meetings, which provided concerned members of the Public opportunities to talk with King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (DPER) personnel regarding specific new Marijuana business permit applications. Public concerns dealt with a myriad of issues, such as Public safety, odor, noise, lighting, pesticides, etc. However, the overwhelming concern was that such businesses could be placed in what primarily are residential areas.

As a result of feedback from the Public at these and other meetings, the Area Council submitted a detailed letter to the King County Council on June 7 (see “Marijuana Business Zoning” letter at:
(GMVAC). The Area Council’s letter proposed four potential avenues for the King County Council to pursue with regards to permitting Marijuana growing (producing) and processing (manufacturing): (1) A ban in the Rural Area; (2) Zoning which requires parcel size to be at least 20 ac (current Code was 4 1/2 ac); or (3) Site only in the Agricultural Production District or Commercial/Industrial areas. In addition, the Area Council requested: Citizens be able to provide Public Comment on all Marijuana Permit Applications; Citizens be able to Appeal all Marijuana Permit Applications; and All Marijuana Permit applications require a Conditional-Use Permit.

Although the King County Council did not make the ban permanent, it did take into account some of the other Area Council recommendations and those from many, many members of the Public who testified. These included: (1) Only allow in the RA-10 or the RA-20 zone, on lots of at least 10 ac (except on Vashon- Maury Island)–this excludes the vast majority of the Rural Area, which is predominated by RA-5 zoning, with some RA-2.5 zoning and (2) Identify 10 locations suitable for retail in Neighborhood Business (NB) zoned areas across unincorporated King County. Because of its complexity and various exceptions, it is recommended members of the Public review the actual Ordinance (see: Search Legislation – King County and type in “2016-0254”).

It should be noted the Ordinance does not have any effect on those permit applications already “vested” (i.e., King County DPER already has found them to be “complete”). However, should DPER deny those applications (note: for Conditional-Use Permits said denial could be overturned on appeal) or the applicants withdraw their applications, then the Ordinance’s provisions would apply.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: New Marijuana Ordinance
Author: Peter Rimbos
Contact: 425-432-9696
Photo Credit: David McNew
Website: Voice of the Valley