Jefferson County Commissioners: No pot grows in rural areas

Board approves Comprehensive Plan amendments

PORT TOWNSEND — Growing and producing marijuana on rural residential land is now banned after the county commissioners approved the 2020 Comprehensive Plan amendments.

The changes also included updating the Port Hadlock Sewer Project.

The ordinance ratifying the amendments was unanimously approved Monday. Last year’s Comprehensive Plan amendment cycle was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The amendment regarding the Port Hadlock Sewer Project brings the plan up to date with the current scope. Changes would add the modular treatment plant that utilizes membrane bioreactor technology to treat wastewater that is planned for sewer, and it would add the six-year financing cost estimated to be $27.09 million, according to commission documents.

The Jefferson County Planning Commission conducted a public hearing in February, and the commissioners conducted a second public hearing on April 19 to add the approval of the Port Hadlock Sewer Project by the state Department of Ecology that was received on March 30.

The changes to marijuana production updates the code from allowing production and processing on rural residential and forest resource land through a conditional discretionary use permit to not allowing further sites to be permitted, county documents said.

The change would also remove cottage industry performance standards for marijuana processing. However, production would not fall under the cottage industry designation.

The county would still allow production and processing on rural and urban industrial-zoned lands, and production would continue on agricultural lands.

Processing and retailing on agricultural land would also continue through a conditional discretionary use permit, Austin Watkins, interim planning manager, has said.

The possibility of some Brinnon residents within the Brinnon Limited Area of More Intensive Rural Development (LAMIRD) connecting to the Dosewallips State Park sewer system is among the approved amendments.

The amendment establishes a policy and development regulation to provide a comprehensive policy that addresses issues and exceptions required by the state and the Growth Management Act for adding sewer connections in rural areas, LAMIRDs, sewering as an essential public facility in rural areas, and sewers to rural schools that serve both urban and rural students, Watkins said at previous meetings.

Specific plans on inclusion of service, improvements to the sewer and other capital planning actions would happen later, as the policy and development regulation essentially “tees up” the following work for the county to move forward, Watkins said.

The last amendment change would be for a specific 22.51-acre site near Airport Cutoff Road and Romans Road, changing it from a rural residential 10 (RR10) zone to an RR5 zone, which would allow for one house to be built per 5 acres, as opposed to one house per 10 acres, commission documents said.

The commissioners will start the 2021 amendment process on May 10, when they will have the recommendations from the Planning Commission brought before them, Watkins said Monday.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

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