Sequim group fights rural neighborhood pot growing facilities

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– Rural residents concerned about the potential impacts of marijuana growing operations in their neighborhood are organizing a campaign to prevent them from taking root.

“We don’t mind the weed; we just don’t want commercial facilities built in our rural community,” said Michael Echternkamp, who lives off Atterbury Road, about the campaign focused in the area south of the Carlsborg Road-U.S. Highway 101 intersection.

The next community meeting on the topic is at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Sequim Prairie Grange Hall at 290 Macleay Road.

The residents of neighborhoods zoned R1 — which allows one dwelling per acre — or R5 — one dwelling per 4.8 acres — say commercial marijuana growers are seeking permission from Clallam County’s community development department to set up shop in those zones.

Earlier this year, the county set up regulations that permit commercial marijuana growing operations in industrial zones and require growers to get conditional-use permits to set up in other zones.

Brenda Carpenter said there are permits for grow structures in rural Clallam County neighborhoods — including Travis Palmer’s application, which is near her house at 322 Cassidy Road — pending county approval.

Growers not in an industrial zone need county permits as well as state licenses.

Sheila Roark Miller, the county’s community development director, said her staff has fielded at least a dozen calls a day over the past several weeks as more growers near final approval of their state licenses.

“They’re just flooding us,” Roark Miller said. “There’s some pretty concerned neighbors up on Cassidy there.”

Residents have organized community meetings on the subject and are circulating petitions they plan to take to conditional permit hearings.

The next conditional-use hearing will be Palmer’s. It will be before hearings examiner Mark Nichols at 11 a.m. Aug. 13 in Room 160 of the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.

Residents have set up a Facebook page with 139 members called No CUP for POT on Cassidy that can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-potCUP.

Currently, only two marijuana growing/processing facilities are operating in Clallam County: Peninsula Cannabis on Highway 101 outside Port Angeles and TropicGrow at Dungeness.

Crops from growers will be sold in the recreational marijuana stores that are opening throughout the state.

Sea Change Cannabis opened Friday in Discovery Bay as the first retail shop on the North Olympic Peninsula.

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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: July 26. 2014 6:42PM
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