Jefferson County tables pot, accessory dwelling units changes in comprehensive plan

Commissioners to make a preliminary decision in July on what issues to move forward

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County commissioners have tabled decisions on proposals to change the comprehensive plan final docket provisions dealing with such issues as recreational marijuana production, multiple accessory dwelling units and the housing action plan.

The four proposals commissioners tabled on Monday include:

• Rescinding the provisions of the Forest Transition Overlay.

• A review and amendment of recreational marijuana addressing concerns about land use issues with recreational marijuana production in rural residential zones.

• Using Eco-ADU as a method for permitting multiple accessory dwelling units (ADUs) per parcel when certain “eco” standards are met.

• Adding a priority work item to the Housing Element’s Action Plan.

The commissioners have until the first meeting in July to make a preliminary decision on what issues to move forward, if any. By the end of July, the final docket consisting of suggested text amendments will be adopted.

Austin Watkins, civil deputy prosecuting attorney, told the commissioners that once they adopt the final docket they can make substantive policy changes to those actions or choose not to make them at all.

The Planning Commission process included a hearing and public comments. On May 1, a report was prepared with recommendations that concluded moving forward all four amendments.

These recommendations differ from those of the Department of Community Development (DCD).

DCD Director Patty Charnas said when the docket opportunity closed, the department made an analysis of those items the staff could realistically accomplish.

“The department looked at what the code requires — which is appropriateness, need, urgency and staff capacity, and available budget,” Charnas said.

“The department stands by its original recommendation to not move forward this docket this year because of its work program, our constraints with respect to budgeting and existing obligations to update the critical areas update, to start updates to the shoreline master program and just the general amount of work we have relative to the staff we have available to do it,” she said.

Charnas said if the commissioners move any of the text amendments forward, the DCD would have to determine what would have to be dropped from the current program or what additional funds would come from the general fund.

During the public hearing, 17 county residents made their positions known, the majority speaking to the Recreational Marijuana in rural residential areas and the Eco-ADU proposal.

District 2 Planning Commissioner Mike Sircely said he was the author of the Eco-ADU proposal that would allow multiple structures on a property. He felt it was “important to address affordable housing and ecological considerations.”

Sircely said other affordable housing measures have failed in the state because rural character and working lands have not been addressed and this proposal focuses on small developments that allow for such features as elevating the structure to allow passage of wind and wildlife, installing alternative energy solutions and incorporating ‘living building’ elements such as living roofs.

“Rural areas don’t need to be the last to be innovative in the state.” Sircely said.

James Olson of Coyle Road spoke of the environmental impact of marijuana growing operations, citing the odors, the runoff of wastewater, the noise pollution from fans and the compatibility with the rural community.

Kathleen Waldron of Marrowstone Island said islanders spent $50,000 over two years to stop two industrial marijuana operations on rural residential property near Fort Flagler.

“The hearing examiner denied the applications due to noise and odor,” Waldron said. “There’s a family living there now for which rural residential zones were designed.”

She noted that marijuana production and processing is an industrial process and is prohibited in rural residential zones in Kitsap, Mason, Whatcom and Skagit counties.

John Gonella of Marrowstone Island delivered 146 petitions that joined about 350 others that had been submitted prior to the hearing about the negative

“From all the proceedings we’ve been to over the past two years, I think it’s pretty evident that your constituents are speaking loudly about their wishes that you address this issue,” Gonella said.

“I’ve heard enough of this misinformation,” said Jean Ball of Quilcene, who offered an opposing viewpoint stating that agriculture is not industrial.

“In Jefferson County you can have as many cows, poultry and swine on your property which creates air pollution,” Ball said.

She said water pollution due to fertilizers or pesticides is not an accurate conclusion because residue can’t be left on any plant. Pesticides used in the industry are low impact and she said, “we’re not talking DDT here.”

As for noise pollution, Ball said there are no generators.

“It’s OK to have a paramilitary gun range in Jefferson County but not a weed farm?”

Commissioner Kate Dean said with all the new information received, the incompatibilities with some of our laws and residents are clear.

“We are going to have more discussion and how we address this item,” she said.

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Jefferson County Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].

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