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Shelton Mason County Journal
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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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t Thursday, July 17, 2014 - Mason County Journal - Page A-15 :S continued frompage A-1 The county had public hear- ings to discuss zoning in October and November, with virtually no comments against allowing pro- ducers and processors in residen- tial zones. Sells said the county should not blame residents for not attendin4 those hearings and should have waited to pass the zoning ordinances. "What was the rush?" she asked. Sheldon proposed the lan- guage of the moratorium earlier this month, which restricts mari- juana production and processing to industrial and agricultural ar- eas in Mason County. He said on July 1, when the commission passed the morato- rium, that the vote would give the county a chance to address concerns and re-evaluate its zon- ing regulations. Neatherlin opposed the mora- torium, saying it was a "knee-jerk reaction." He said the commis- sion should take time to consider the issue before enacting the moratorium. Jeffreys cast the deciding vote. Unlike Sheldon, who was not present at the county's original marijuana zoning vote, she voted to approve the in November zon- ing that allowed pot production in rural residential zones. 'Tm questioning whether ru- ral residential is an appropriate zoning for marijuana production and processing," Jeffreys told the Journal last week. "I want to take another look at that and make sure we have adequate mitigation and buffers ... if they were to stay in that zone." Jeffreys said she voted for a moratorium, which includes mixed use and commercial areas, because those areas often allow residential development, or are Close to residential areas. "We have to look closely at what is the existing development in those zoning areas now," she said. "The more I learn about the operation of marijuana produc- tion .... the more it is akin to, in my opinion, light manufacturing. It's not as agriculturally sinn- lar as I had thought originally it might be." Some residents say they are concerned about commtmity safe- ty, higher crime rates in the area, drops in property value, odor and environmentaleffects, among other concerns. While Sells Drive residents asked for a moratorium because of Forbidden Farms, the morato- rium will not affect the company because it had county building permits on file befqre the vote. While keeping_growers out of other neighborhoods, did it help Sells Drive? "It did, but it didn't," Sells said. "It's bittersweet. It doesn't really achieve wha~ we were hop- ing for." While allowed tO stay on Sells Drive, Forbidden Farms will not be able to apply for new permits to expand. "I don't think it' going to affect them," said Forbidden Farms' at- torney day BernebUrg of Tacoma. "Forbidden Farm would not be expanding at any! event at that location." Berneburg saic he represents about 50 clients i~ the commer- cial marijuana business and an- other 300 medicali marijuana or- ganizations. Forbidden Farms has a Tier 3 license with the!state, he said. Originall.y, companies could app!y "We're not against business, we just want the county to be more responsible in the way that they're zoning. Business comes with risk. Laws change all the time and affect businesses all the time." Nicole Sells, resident of Sells Drive, where a tier 3 marijuana farm is situated for more than one Tier 3 license, Where can they go? %Ve don't have anything to do which allows for up to 30,000 The county's moratorium re-with zoning,"saidMikhailCarpen- square feet of plant canopy space, stricts growers and producers of ter of the Liquor Control Board's However, due to the large vol- marijuana to land zoned for in- communications office. "One of the ume of applicants, companies are dustrial use, or land designated conditions of the license is they now restricted to one Tier 3 ap- as agricultural, must be in accordance with their plication and 21,000 square feet, Of nearly 500,000 acres of local jurisdiction." Berneburg said. land mapped into parcels in the However, the Liquor Control He said residents' concernscounty, 2,416 acres are zoned for Board does not check that its ap- are largely addressed by state industrial use and 5,871 acres plicants have the permits neces- regulations on marijuana grow- are designated for agricultural sary to operate at their locations ers. Their concerns, as stated on use in Mason County, according and will continue to process and a flier circulated throughout the to the county's GIS department, award licenses to applicants, re- county, were not based on factual This is a total of 1.6 percent of gardless of whether their location information," he said. parcels in Mason County. meets county zoning law, said ' he flier itself is full of flat More than 1,900 acres of that Brian Smith, also of the commu- outright misinformation," Berne- industrial land is in the Shelton nications office. burg said. "It's called lies, it's also Urban Growth Area. Mason County is entirely re- called slander." According to GIS, much of sponsible for checking that the If the information distributed in that land is in the Shelton Urban marijuana companies are in accor- the flier negatively affects Forbid- Growth Area and Port of Shelton dance with county laws, he said. den Farms' business, they would property at its Sanderson Field Liquor Control Board member have grounds to sue, he said. Airport and Johns Prairie Indus- Chris Marr referred a Journal re- trial Site. porter back to the commtmications The numbers "The reality is, that there's office when asked to further corn- The county's moratorium on nothing available at the airport, ment on how the moratorium would marijuana production and pro- there's nothing available at the affect the board's licensing process. cessing in all but industrial and (Oakland Bay) Marina," Fuhr said. In April, the Journal reported agricultural zones affects 51 of The Johns Prairie Industrial that the county had more than 87 or nearly 60 percent -- of Site has about 400 acres of in- 1,000 unresolved code violations, pending license applications, dustrial land, said pert executive which include unpermitted struc- The Liquor Control Board director John Dobson. tures, dating back to 2006. has 48 separate pending Mason Marijuana companies have toThe county commission ap- County license applications for be 1,000 feet from schools, day proved hiring a code enforce- marijuana producers, or growers, cares and other places children ment officer to deal with these and 40 pending applications for gather. That means propertyviolations, but the Department processors. Some of the 43 total lines for the company's property of Commtmity Development has eompanies have more than one and the school or day care's prop- yet to file the position. pending license of either type for erty have to be 1,000 feet apart. a listedaddress. Some of the port's land on What's next? Of those, 12 companies sub-Johns Prairie is less than 1,000 Mason County commission- mitted completed permit appli- feet from the Mason County Recre- ers will take testimony on the cations to the Mason County De- ation Area, which has baseball and moratorium at a public hearing partment of Community Devel- sei ball fields used by local high July 22. The commission does not opment before the moratorium, schools and recreational teams, have to take further action to con- That means they are legally vest- The port had to ask the county tinue the moratorium. ed, or grandfathered, into county to move a property line in order The commission will have the zoning regulations at the time of to accommodate a marijuana pro- option to renew the moratorium their application. One of those ducer and processor on the site. in six months, and can lift it at 12, Canopy Park LLC, submit- Dobson said he hopes to have any time. ted permit applications for two leases with two more companies During the moratorium, the buildings for four smaller 1-502 by the end of the week. county commission will direct the companies. "They are starting to look to us Mason County Planning Com- Many of these companies also for basic acreage -- there is an- mission to take a second look at applied for state processor licens- other 8 acres available at Johns the county's zoning ordinances es or a second producer license. Prairie that is on the far side of for marijuana production and The operations that are grand- that property line," he said. "I processing. fathered into county law can con- have another potential tenant "If they actually really do that tinue on their property, but can't that is going to want to be on the work, it's really not an unreason: apply for any new permits. They wrong side of that property line. able thing to do and we would ex- are limited to the permits they We're going to have to do another pect our government to do that," applied for before the morato- property line adjustment." attorney Berneburg said. "How- rium. While some companies are ever we've got the other kind of As of Tuesday, only High- moving to industrial land at Johns moratorium which is a rolling water Farms, a producer in the Prairie, Fuhr said he is looking moratorium." Skokomish Valley, has received a into relocating Agropack to Sno- Berneburg said he expected state license, homish or Okanogan counties, the county to lift the moratorium Three more 1-502 applicants"rve got some great opporttmi- in the future. listed their addresses in industri- ties," he said. "I spent over a year "I think the county is going to ally zoned land in Mason County. deciding to rent here in Mason look at this and realize all these They will still be able to apply for County." issues have been raised ... and permits through the county.On July 8, Neatherlin suggest- realize that the Liquor Control In all, 18 companies, which have ed the moratorium, passed less Board has a really tight handle applied for 37 licenses, will still be than 24 hours after the commis- on this," he said. ' 12qe people in allowed under the moratorium, sion first discussed it on the re- this business want to be good Six companies just missed be- cord, might make Mason County neighbors." inggrandfatheredin theywereseem like a risky choice for other That might not be good enough attending pre-permit meetings kinds of developers, such as devel- for Sells Drive residents. Accord- with the department ofcommuni- opers of low-income housing that in4 to Nicole Sells, some resi- ty development when the county the county is working to attract to dents have already seen drops in passed the moratorium. They will the Belfair Urban Growth Area. their property values, which they now have to find new locations, attribute to the farm. "We're not against business- The county's problem Sells said she and her hus- es, we just want the county to While the 28 companies affect- band were planning on building be more responsible in the way ed by the moratorium can no lon- a home and raising a family on that they're zoning," Sells said. ger get Mason County permits, their land at Sells Drive. Now she "Business comes with risk. Laws they could still get a state license, said they'll be moving. change all the time and affect according to the Liquor Control "I want to enjoy the country air, businesses all the ".time." .... Board. TIMELINE OF COUNTY'S MARIJUANA MORATORIUM OCT. 22, 2013 The Mason County Commission has its first public hearing on zoning for marijuana businesses. The commission extends the public hearing to allow more time for public comment. NOV. 8, 2013 The Mason County Commission continues its hearing on zoning for marijuana businesses and continues to take testimony from the public. NOV. 12, 2013 Commissioners vote 2-0 to approve zoning for marijuana businesses allowing growing and processing in all areas, including residential zones with lots as small as 5 acres. Commissioner Tim Sheldon was not in attendance. NOV. 18, 2013 The Washington state Liquor Control Board begins accepting applications for marijuana licenses. MARCH 2014 The Liquor Control Board grants a license to its first marijuana producer in Mason County-- Highwater Farms of the Skokomish Valley. JUNE 31, 2014 Commissioners first discuss moratorium on marijuana production and processing in residential areas. JULY 1, 2014 Mason County approves moratorium on production and processing of marijuana in all but industrial and agricultural zones. JULY 22, 2014 A public hearing is scheduled to take public testimony on the county's moratorium. :: ._.. :.,, ,,marijuana," she..s . .......... +