Port Townsend City Council to hold public hearing on pot shop buffer zones tonight

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend City Council will conduct a public hearing on the city Planning Commission’s recommendation to shrink some buffer zones around marijuana dispensaries at its meeting tonight.

The council will consider approving the recommendations on a first reading after the hearing at the meeting at 6:30 p.m. in chambers at historic City Hall, 540 Water St. Final approval could be only on a second reading.

The Planning Commission discussed the changes during a meeting in October and recommended the zone reductions to the council.

If approved by the City Council, the new plan would reduce buffer zones from 1,000 feet to 100 feet around such areas as recreational centers, public parks, transit centers, libraries, arcades and child care centers.

However, 1,000-foot buffer zones will still be in place around elementary and secondary schools and public playgrounds.

According to John McDonagh, a senior planner for the city and one of the staff members who presented the proposal to the Planning Commission in October, these regulations would follow a new state regulation that allow municipalities to choose to shrink buffer zones.

The buffer zones were re-evaluated by the state earlier this year, along with the decision to merge medical and recreational marijuana markets. This is the only change recommended on the buffer zones since they were implemented in 2014.

McDonagh said in October that reducing the buffer zones opens up new locations for another marijuana retailer in Port Townsend. Currently the Reefer Den on West Sims Way in the only marijuana retailer in Port Townsend’s city limits.

The City Council was briefed on the buffer zone reductions in October. At tonight’s meeting, the public can comment.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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