Klickitat County reinstates marijuana business ban for six months

Gerald and Theresa Golding testify against allowing a marijuana processing plant

Gerald and Theresa Golding testify against allowing a marijuana processing plant in their neighborhood at the October 7, 2014 meeting of the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners

The following  is a press release from the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners, followed by a Q&A issued by the commissioners, followed by a link to a PDF of the actual ordinance:

The Klickitat County Board of Commissioners took action on Tuesday, October 21, 2014, to re-adopt a moratorium on marijuana production, processing and retail sales in the unincorporated areas of Klickitat County. A moratorium had been adopted a year ago, but during a well-attended hearing at that time, all but one participant opposed the moratorium, citing voter approval of the I-502 (marijuana) initiative, strict Liquor Control Board (LCB) rules, and potential creation of jobs.

Since the prior moratorium lapsed, it has come to the attention of the Board of Commissioners that marijuana facilities are being proposed for locations within the County that may be incompatible with surrounding uses (e.g., security lighting and cameras that may be directed to adjacent properties, odors, water usage, traffic in/out of facility, disposal of waste materials, etc.).  Because the LCB licenses marijuana facilities without written notice to individual owners of properties that surround proposed sites, and applicants may not truthfully inform surrounding landowners of their plans, landowners who are most affected may not be aware of the new use until the marijuana facility is operating.  The current LCB rules restrict facilities from locating near schools and certain other types of uses, but do not consider other important factors such as proximity to residences, school bus stops, and other locations where children and under-age young adults may be present. Additionally, the LCB will be considering raising the total square footage of marijuana produce operations from a state-wide total maximum of 2 million square feet, to 8.5 million square feet, which could result in expansion of operating marijuana facilities and/or a round of new applications to the LCB for additional facilities. 

Due to these concerns, the Board of County Commissioners adopted the moratorium to halt the establishment of new marijuana production, processing, and retail facilities in unincorporated areas of Klickitat County, in order to allow time to determine how to address the local impacts from such facilities.

The Board of Commissioners will conduct a public hearing at 6:30 p.m., November 12, 2014, in the meeting room of the Klickitat County PUD in Goldendale. Public notices will be published, and an effort to individually notify marijuana applicants to the LCB as well as citizens who have expressed concerns will be made. The purpose of the hearing is to receive testimony from those who support or oppose continuation of the moratorium for a period of six months. If the Board of Commissioners decides to continue the moratorium, the matter will be directed to the Planning Commission to develop recommendations to the Board of Commissioners for amendments to zoning regulations and policies. The Board of Commissioners will likely conduct a public hearing prior to taking action on the Planning Commission recommendations.

Copies of the moratorium and a “Question and Answer” flyer are available from the Klickitat County Planning Department, 228 West Main Street, Goldendale.

Questions/Answers Re: Moratorium on Marijuana Facilities

Why did the County approve the moratorium?

  • It has come to the attention of the County Commissioners that marijuana facilities are being proposed for locations within the County that may be incompatible with surrounding uses (e.g., security lighting and cameras that may be directed to adjacent properties, odors, water usage, traffic in/out of facility, disposal of waste materials, etc.).  Because the Liquor Control Board (LCB) licenses marijuana facilities without written notice to individual owners of properties that surround proposed sites, and applicants may not truthfully inform surrounding landowners of their plans, landowners who are most affected may not be aware of the new use until the marijuana facility is operating.  Additionally, the current LCB rules restrict facilities from locating near schools and certain other types of uses, but do not consider other important factors such as proximity to residences, school bus stops, and other locations where children and under-age young adults may be present.

  • Although the LCB stopped accepting applications for licenses in December of last year, the LCB may decide to open up the process to new applications or allow expansion of other licenses.  The LCB is currently considering raising the total square footage of marijuana produce operations from a state-wide total maximum of 2 million square feet, to 8.5 million square feet. 

  • Due to these concerns, the Board of County Commissioners requires time to consider whether County regulations may be necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public from the potential expansion of existing marijuana facilities and new facilities. 

 

What is the intended effect of the moratorium in Klickitat County?

  • The intended effect is to halt the establishment of new marijuana production, processing, and retail facilities in unincorporated areas of Klickitat County, so the County has time to determine how to address the local impacts from such facilities.

  • The moratorium will allow time for the County to consider adoption of county policies and/or regulations that may include a requirement to provide notice to owners of property surrounding a proposed site; factors to be considered in addressing whether a marijuana facility may be incompatible with other uses in certain areas; and/or restrictions to protect the public’s health and safety.

 

What are the next steps the County will take?

 

  • The Board of County Commissioners will conduct a hearing on November 12, 2014, to receive testimony from the public, regarding whether a moratorium should or should not be continued.  The Planning Department will make an effort to individually notify applicants for marijuana licenses within the County and members of the public who have recently appeared before the Board of Commissioners to express their concerns on this issue, in addition to publishing notice in the local newspapers. 

  • If the Board decides that continuation of the moratorium is in the public’s interest, the Board may direct the Planning Commission to develop recommendations for amendment to the County zoning regulations.  The Board of Commissioners would likely request the Planning Commission to develop such a recommendation within the shortest period of time possible, e.g., 60 days.

  • Once the Board of Commissioners receives the recommendation from the Planning Commission the Board may conduct another public hearing prior to adoption.    

 

Several marijuana applications are pending before the Liquor Control Board and others have been granted.  Which will be affected immediately (i.e., prohibited, at least temporarily) and which will be allowed to operate? (Note that the below guidance does not apply to any specific facility, but only provides a generalized response)

  • Marijuana licensees who have received approval from the LCB and have filed a complete building permit application with the County Building Department for their facility are not affected.

  • Marijuana licensees who have not yet received a license from the LCB or have received LCB licenses but not submitted a complete application to the County Building Department for a building permit are prohibited from operating while the moratorium is in effect. 

  • Marijuana licensees who were approved by the LCB for locations outside of Klickitat County, who wish to relocate their license to locations within Klickitat County but have not yet submitted a complete application for a building permit to the Building Department, will not be permitted to establish their business in Klickitat County while the moratorium is in effect.

  • Marijuana licensees who have received approval from the LCB, obtained all required permits, and have lawfully established their use, may be treated as a legal non-conforming use under County regulations. If so, the moratorium would not affect such a use.

 

Isn’t growing and processing of marijuana just another type of agriculture allowed throughout most of the County under current zoning?

  • Currently marijuana is considered an illegal drug under federal law.

  • The moratorium specifically applies to production, processing and retail sales that are illegal under federal law.

  • Given its treatment under federal law, it is distinct from other agricultural uses.

  • Also, the crop itself has its own unique impacts.

Did the County take action earlier on this issue?

  • Yes. The Board of Commissioners adopted a moratorium a year ago.  However, when the Board conducted meetings and a public hearing (the hearing was well attended; the Commissioners’ Hearing Room was filled to capacity), nearly all participants (except for one person) favored discontinuance of the moratorium on the basis that I-502 was approved by a majority of voters, the LCB had adopted very stringent rules to protect the public, and the new marijuana businesses will provide new jobs/income.

  • There have been several challenges to the legal right of local government to prohibit the establishment of marijuana facilities. In several cases, the industry has questioned the ability of local governments to prohibit marijuana facilities. So far, recent court decisions have supported the ability of local governments to do so.      

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Residents speak their piece on marijuana at Goldendale City Council marathon meeting

Goldendale City Attorney,  Ken Harper, right, and City Manager Larry Bellamy eye the crowd that filled the council chambers Monday night.

Goldendale City Attorney, Ken Harper, right, and City Manager Larry Bellamy eye the crowd that filled the council chambers Monday night.

It was a marathon session of the Goldendale City Council last night. For a two solid hours, 30 people paraded up to the microphone to share their opinion in the public hearing required by the council’s passage a six-month moratorium on marijuana-related businesses in Goldendale. The meeting was unusual in that councilor Mike Cannon attended by telephone from out of town, and the city’s Yakima attorney, Ken Harper, was present for the evening.

Council members took no action following the tempest of testimony. Councilor Len Crawford suggested that the council convene an executive session, but the city attorney Harper said that it would not be legal to deliberate such a matter in executive session by itself. He suggested reviewing the night’s testimony to see if there were threats of possible litigation, which would be a legitimate reason for an executive session. Council members agreed if legal justification should be found, they would hold such a session next Monday night, October 27 at 7 p.m. The end of the testimony did not mean the end of the meeting, though. Three times, council members voted to extend the meeting in half-hour increments, in order to deal with several funding requests and to hold an executive session involving real estate negotiations in another matter.

To hear the testimony from last night, listen to the podcasts below:

First hour of testimony – Mark Hyde, Chet Biggerstaff, Paul Hansen, Gerald Golding, Brian Thobois, Baretta Chub-Hardy, Debbie Burnhart, Theresa Golding, Cliff Gregg, Dennis Blomquist, Alliesha Hawsinger,

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Second hour of testimony – Sherry Carver, Mike Garnett, Darrell Smith, Jan Smith, Tom Tastrow, Sue Jaggers, Ken McKuen, Merilee Hansen, Lyle Ferch, Richard Ellis, Ruth Faulkner, Dave Schlosseer, Cassie Blomquist, Harold Eliason, Michael Kitchen, Terry Hardy, Jacob Smith

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Other business – authorizing purchases

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Public comment – more on marijuana

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2nd Washington judge upholds pot-business ban – Goldendale Meeting Monday

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) — A second Washington state judge says cities and counties can ban licensed marijuana businesses within their jurisdictions.

The ruling Friday from Chelan County Superior Court Judge T.W. Small came in the case of SMP Retail, which sued the city of Wenatchee over its ban on pot businesses. A Pierce County judge similarly upheld a ban in Fife in August; that case has been appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson says that the decision comports with a legal opinion his office issued early this year.

Dozens of cities and counties around the state have temporarily or permanently banned marijuana businesses. Critics say that threatens the ability of Washington’s regulated system to overtake the black market.

But Ferguson says nothing in Washington’s legal pot law explicitly overruled local zoning authority.

On a local note, the Goldendale City Council will hold a Public Hearing on I-502 this Monday, October 20th, 7pm at the City Council Chambers.

Click on the link below to view the Agenda:

10202014 Agenda

Ebola Virus Disease – It’s important to know the facts

We are not currently investigating any local patients suspected of having Ebola Virus Disease, but many U.S. citizens are asking questions about the spread of the Ebola Virus. North Central Public Health District would like our citizens to know what they should and shouldn’t be concerned about.

Ebola is a serious, often deadly illness, but it’s not highly communicable. The risk of Ebola disease here in Oregon is low. Health officials are ready to respond in the event that a person ill with Ebola infection arrives in Oregon. We are sharing information with the public health and medical communities so we will be ready to get ill persons into proper care and prevent infection of others. We use tried and true core public health interventions to protect the health of Oregonians.

Spread of Ebola virus requires direct contact with body fluids of an ill, infected person who has symptoms, either by touching the ill person or a surface recently contaminated by his or her bodily fluids. Ebola is not an airborne illness.

State and local health authorities are in contact with the CDC Quarantine Station, which will be immediately notified if any ill travelers arrive at the airport. There are emergency plans in place at Portland International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to deal with just this sort of situation. Those working at airports play an important role in keeping potentially imported illnesses like Ebola in check: By knowing what to do and who to call when a traveler presents with unusual illness, airport personnel help recognize and contain illnesses so they don’t have a chance to spread.

The situation is evolving and the information provided today may change. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) websites contain current and credible information.  OHA will also be working with 211 to provide non-urgent guidance. Dial 2-1-1 (or 866-698-6155) or visit www.211info.org. 211 can direct families and individuals with personal or community struggles to services that can help.
211 is currently open M-F from 8 am to 6 pm.

Please refer to these trusted sources, and we will continue to keep you updated:
OHA Ebola pages: http://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/DiseasesAZ/Pages/disease.aspx?did=128
CDC Ebola Link: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/qa.html
(For more information, please contact North Central Public Health District at (541) 506-2600 or visit us on the web at www.ncphd.org.)

Voters’ pamphlet mailed to 3.2M Washington homes

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington residents can expect to start seeing the state general election voters’ pamphlet in the mailbox.

The state Elections Division is putting them in the mail this week. They should arrive by Oct. 22.

The pamphlets go to 3.2 million households. There are 3.9 million registered voters in the state, so if there’s more than one voter in a household, they should share.

The guide includes information on state candidates and the three statewide initiatives: I-1351 to lower class sizes and the competing gun control measures, I-591 and I-594. It also includes advisory votes on two tax-related bills passed by the Legislature.

 

$10,000 fine for illegal burning near Dallesport

DALLESPORT, Wash. (AP) — The state has fined the owners of a property near Dallesport more than $10,000 for burning tires and trash.

Dennis and Robert Eiesland of Circle T Ranch Inc. have 30 days to pay the penalty or appeal to the state’s Pollution Control Hearings Board.

The Department of Ecology says a big fire on the property last March burned tires, garbage, plastic, PVC pipe and demolition debris. Officials say that when air quality inspectors responded, Dennis Eiesland admitted setting the fire, acknowledged he didn’t have a permit and said he had no way to put it out.

The Eieslands did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment Monday. The total amount of the fine is $10,165.

 

Audio: Klickitat County Candidates night complete recording

Klickitat County Sheriff candidates Bob Songer and Marc Boardman. Photo from earlier candidate's night in July

Klickitat County Sheriff candidates Bob Songer and Marc Boardman. Photo from earlier candidate’s night in July

 

About 100 people packed the auditorium of last night’s Goldendale Candidates forum sponsored by the Goldendale Grange. Throughout the night, mud slinging was mentioned several times in relation to a few of the hotly contested races.

We’ve divided the two-hour event into two one-hour podcasts below. To listen, just click on the grey podcast bar.

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