Port Angeles pot retailer might have to find new home after county says it’s too close to gymnastics studio

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES –– Owners of The Hidden Bush retail marijuana store may have to find a new location after Clallam County objected to the shop’s location near a gymnastics studio.

Community Development Director Sheila Roark Miller said Thursday her department is entering an objection to the site at 2840 E. U.S. Highway 101 in the county’s review of the application being processed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board because of the number of children who attend the dance studio.

“We’re objecting to the retail license due to its close proximity to the gymnastics facility,” Roark Miller said Thursday.

“They serve 150 to 200 kids on a weekly basis and host high school gymnastics teams,” Roark Miller said of the Klahhane Gymnastics studio. “It’s a busy place.”

The Liquor Board has said some 20 stores, made legal by the November 2012 passage of Initiative 502, will receive licenses today and be allowed to open Tuesday.

The initiative legalized recreational marijuana, but forbid shops from locating within 1,000 feet of a school, park or other areas where children congregate.

“That gymnastic facility isn’t one of those spots,” said Heather Owen, who applied to operate The Hidden Bush.

She said the nearby studio should not affect her store, which is zoned urban regional commercial.

Liquor Board spokesman Brian Smith said the county’s objection to the location likely would not lead to a denial of The Hidden Bush’s license — that Owen would just have to find a new location for her store.

“They may still get the license, but they may have to move,” said Smith, who added he didn’t know when a decision would be made.

Owen’s attorney, Robert McVay, said the liquor board had previously told them the gymnastics studio would not be a barrier to the shop’s establishment.

Though he had just found out about the county’s decision, McVay said he may file an appeal.

Roark Miller said Jan Urfer, owner of Klahhane Gymnastics, told her liquor board officials said they would consider the studio out of bounds because the Port Angeles and Sequim school districts use the facility for their gymnastics programs.

Urfer could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Hidden Bush won the first of three retail licenses allocated unincorporated Clallam County in the state Liquor Control Board’s lottery in May.

Also drawn in the lottery were High Grade Organics, 100 LaPush Road, Suite 602, Forks; and Weed-R-Us, 2941 E. U.S. Highway 101, Port Angeles.

Two more licenses are allowed to shops in Port Angeles and one more in Sequim, which has a moratorium on the shops.

Jefferson County was allowed four licenses for retail stores: one in Port Townsend and three anywhere else.

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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 06. 2014 7:02PM
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