Sequim City Council to mull zoning, other marijuana issues at tonight’s meeting

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– The City Council will consider new regulations on how it plans to zone for recreational marijuana when it meets tonight.

The Sequim Planning Commission approved proposed regulations last Tuesday night that ban marijuana processing and production from the city and limit retail to heavy commercial zones on the far east and west ends of town.

The planning commission also recommended the council place a moratorium on allowing the one retail store the Washington State Liquor Control Board allocated the city to set up shop.

The council meets at 5 p.m. in the Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St.

Chris Hugo, director of community development, said the moratorium allows the city to ban pot shops if state regulators do not require the city to allow one.

“If the state does adopt preemption of local ordinances, then we’ve got the zones that best suit our needs for the one retail store,” he said.

“If they don’t preempt, then we don’t recommend we get in the marijuana business at all.”

The Liquor Board is regulating the recreational marijuana industry made legal by the November 2012 passage of Initiative 502.

Hugo noted Sequim voters supported Initiative 502 by a slim majority.

Legislators are considering how much power to give local jurisdictions in regulating the production, processing and retail sale of marijuana.

Another key provision in the planning commission’s recommendations to the council is declaring in the city’s codes that marijuana is not an agricultural activity.

Sequim’s codes allow agricultural production and processing in single-family residential and mixed-use zones.

Hugo said planning commissioners felt marijuana production and processing facilities do not benefit the city because tax revenues are not slated to be shared with local jurisdictions.

“It doesn’t bring us any tax revenue,” Hugo said. “If the city gets no benefit, why should we allow it?”

The liquor control board is considering applications submitted late last year for those looking to grow, package and sell recreational marijuana.

If the state says Sequim must allow a pot shop to open, it will be limited to the city’s C2 and C3 zones, which are the dense commercial areas on the east and west ends of Washington Street.

Initiative 502 mandated marijuana facilities be placed at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks, libraries and day care centers.

Local jurisdictions are given an opportunity to oppose a marijuana business license application.

Seven businesses have applied to set up retail marijuana shops in Sequim. Addresses for five of those would be in the approved zones.

Only one applicant to process marijuana is sited in Sequim’s limits. No producer applications came from inside Sequim.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 23. 2014 7:12PM
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