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Shelton Mason County Journal
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July 17, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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July 17, 2014

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.... il~!i I I: I ill ~i ~ i J Page A-4 - Mason County Journal - Thursday, July 17, 2014 :k JOURNAL EDITORIAL "n a hasty decision to back- pedal on zoning for legal, licensed commercial mari- juana producing and process- ing operations, Mason County commissioners overreacted with potential costly impacts for taxpayers. On July 1, commissioners voted 2-1 to place a morato- rium on land use permits to grow and process marijuana on all but 1.6 percent of land parcels within the county. Under the new six-month moratorium, marijuana pro- duction and processing will only be allowed on land zoned agricultural or industrial. That's quite a bit different than the zoning the commis- sion passed a mere seven months ago when it approved growing operations in areas that included rural residential parcels of 5 acres and larger. The drastic turnaround af- fects 51 of 87 pending license applications in the county, or nearly 60 percent. Some were in the final phase of approval. And there's the big issue. It's a tough business loss to now be told, "sorry, we changed our mind," for those who, in good faith, sought to enter the green rush to grow or produce our state's newest legal agricultural cash crop, and invested heavily to set up operations in areas approved by the county. For some, it could mean hundreds of thou- sands of dollars in investment gone, or their life savings. As the voice of reason on this issue, Commissioner Randy Neatherlin summed it up well when he said, "I think (the moratorium) is so restric- tive that it's going to cost a plications for economic develop- was extended. The process lot of people a lot of money, ment within the county in gen- was extensively covered in and it's our fault." Neatherlin eral. Within a week of receiving this newspaper. And in fact, voted against the moratorium protests from predominantlySheldon appealed to the pub- calling it a "knee-jerk reac- one neighborhood yelling "Not lic for more input when he tion." in my backyard," the commis- said at the time, "I'd just like We don't think it an unrea- sion hit the pause button on to hear from other community sonable expectation that these previously approved zoning,people ... from more than just businesses, which have in- What does that say to others the advocates." Ultimately the curred huge losses despite fol- wishing to make substantialcommissioners opted, wisely, lowing all the rules and coun- investments in this county for more restrictions on zoning ty zoning regulations, would based on current land use regu- than were proposed. want compensation from the lations? That's a fair question. Seven months ago was the county, or at least seek some Commissioner Tim Shel- time to "get it right." Maybe form of legal redress. Or as don, who introduced the they did. The industry is very Neatherlin put it, "These peo- moratorium, said he felt the heavily regulated by the state ple may have already spent restrictions would "give us a with requirements that in- their life savings to purchase chance to get it right." clude 8-foot fencing, 24-hour a piece of land. They have a It's unfortunate the com- surveillance, a clean criminal right to recoup the money in- missioners didn't receive record for those involved, and vested because they followed input from neighborhood more. Is the rural 5 acre par- us. We allowed it and we have residents seven months ago cel minimum not enough to to take responsibility for it." when the zoning rules were site such a facility? Neatherlin also questioned passed. There was ample op- if this could have broader im- portunity. The public hearing see EDITORIAL, page A-6 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Sheldon's not the answer in Senate Editor, the Journal I am not a fan of marijuana one way or another. However, a law was passed by the state of Washington that mari- juana could be legally grown and sold. I guess Tim Sheldon was too busy collecting his salary as a senator and county commissioner to have time to attend the meeting when the attend- ing commissioners decided that the zoning laws for the county would allow the growing of marijuana. Along comes Sheldon on his white horse to save the county from growing marijuana. The horse is already out of the barn and the county has already issued permits to some of the growers. I am sure Sheldon is ready to vote to reimburse those grow- ers for their permits, who had applied for their permits before the moratorium was issued and were not grandfathered in to receive their permit. Let's add up the dollars that they already have in- vested, the potential of jobs, salaries and equipment that have been lost while you diddle around with this moratorium, making yourself a hero against marijua- na. Let's get it straight, how restricted is it for permits to qualify and grow mari- juana in the state. The state has only allowed five retail outlets in the county by a lottery process. Look it up. Read the law. Let's vote for Irene Bowling to fight the battles that we can win, not just big attention-grabbing headlines that are going nowhere. Look it up, Tim. Read the law -- it was passed by the state. Where was your vote on the law? Earl Mallinger Shelton How do we invest marketing dollars? Editor, the Journal The good news is, according to data provided by Mason County at the last Lodging Tax Advisory Committee meet- ing earlier in June, the revenue generat- ed is up by just over 17 percent this year over last. This means that next year Mason County will have an increase in the amount they can invest into tourism related efforts. There are three current streams of grants recommended for funding from this committee, of which I have recently been appointed a member. 1. Visitor Information Centers 2. Mason County Marketing -- the goal is to increase the number of folks staying in overnight accommodations 3. Festivals At our next meeting at 9 a.m. on July 29, the LTAC is meeting again to make recommendations related to marketing Mason County as a tourist destination. The team has received several proposals to rank according to some specific goals identified. This meeting will be held at the county commission office on Fii h Street and is a public meeting. Three proposals will move to the next phase for interviews. In addition to encouraging citizens, businesses owners and community or- ganizations to attend, I would like to ask for some input into how you might invest these tax dollars into a tourism marketing campaign. What do you think? We have about $174,000 this year. How should we spend it? Where? And who or what kind of organization should make the media buy decisions? Right now, all advertising, tourism promotion and media buy decisions are made by two individuals. Heidi McCutch- en, from the Shelton Mason Chamber of Commerce, and Stephanie Rowland from the North Mason Chamber. They are the only two people in this (county) that make all these decisions at present. I am not sure why it was set up this way in the past. In any case, the LTAC is meeting to allocate two years of funding to one of this yea s seven applicants. Please let me know what your thoughts are by emailing angelarabelos@yahoo.com. Angela L. Rabelos Mason County LTAC member Harstine Island see LETTERS, page A-5 Mason County USPS 492-800 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mason County Journal, RO. Box 430, Shelton, WA 98584. Published weekly by the Mason County Journal at 227 West COta Street, Shelton, Washington Mailing address: P.O. Box 430, Shelton, WA 98584 Telephone (360) 426-4412.www.masoncounty.com Periodicals postage paid at Shelton, Washington Mason County Journal is a member of Washington Newspaper Publishers' Association. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: $37 per year for Mason County addresses, $51 per year in state of Washi~rlgton but outside Mason County, $61 per year out of state. Owned and published by Shelton-Mason County Journal, Inc. Tom Hyde, publisher Newsroom: Adam Rudnick, editor Natalie Johnson, reporter Gordon Weeks, reporter Emily Hanson, sports reporter Kirk Ericson, proofreader Advertising: Dave Pierik, St. Acct. Executive Kathy Brooks, ad representative Lloyd Mullen, ad representative Front office: Donna Kinnaird, bookkeeper Amanda Elson, circulation Composing room: William Adams, graphics Linda Frizzell, graphics All editorial, advertising and legal deadlines are 5 p.m. Monday prior to publication. To submit a letter to the editor, email letters@masoncounty.com.