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Redmond Ridge removed from county pot policy

Redmond Ridge residents wait to address King County Council at Monday’s meeting. - Courtesy of King County
Redmond Ridge residents wait to address King County Council at Monday’s meeting.
— image credit: Courtesy of King County

After a standing-room-only, five-hour marathon council session on Monday, which included debate on multiple amendments, King County Council members removed the Redmond Ridge area from the list of places where marijuana can be grown and processed in King County.

Council members also passed regulations defining where marijuana can be grown, processed and sold in the unincorporated areas of the county.

“I am very pleased that the council resolved this zoning issue,” said council member Kathy Lambert, who represents Redmond Ridge. “Marijuana processing and growing does not belong in a very dense family friendly community like Redmond Ridge. It is the most densely populated area known as an Urban Planned Development and is the only one in unincorporated King County.”

AN UNFAMILIAR DISTRICT

Lambert’s District 3 is the largest in the county. She said the other King County Council members do not deal with her district on a regular basis; some have never seen it, while others have not visited in many years. As a result, she said, they did not realize how heavily populated some areas, such as Redmond Ridge, are.

“I see their districts more than they see my district,” Lambert said.

Redmond Ridge residents were out in force for last week’s public testimony and Monday’s meeting. In addition to testifying, they also called and emailed council members to express their concerns.

Lambert said at one point, she received upwards of 500 emails in one day, whereas she usually receives 200-400 emails on a daily basis.

Jen Boon, president of the Redmond Ridge Residential Owners Association, said Redmond Ridge residents came together “as never before” on the issue. They asked that “large, indoor marijuana factories not be sandwiched into (their) neighborhood, but be appropriately placed in more industrial areas, the same as any other large factory should.”

“Residents found agreement for removing exclusive neighborhood reference in the ordinance from those in our neighborhood and beyond,” she said. “We were especially impressed by the support, leadership and guidance of council member Kathy Lambert and Sen. Andy Hill.”

The residents’ reactions were a response to King County ordinance 2013-0472 singling out Redmond Ridge by name in allowing a marijuana processing plant in the community. In addition, an applicant under the name Red Ridge Farms LLC applied for a permit to open a plant in the 10000 block of 231st Way Northeast on the Ridge.

While the majority of feedback King County Council members received on the topic was against allowing a processing plant on the Ridge, Lambert’s office received input from at least one individual who was in favor.


A COMMUNITY UNITED

Council members debated the issue in depth and ultimately agreed with the citizens in their belief that the Redmond Ridge area needed to be removed from zoning for marijuana growing and processing. Additional research revealed that all but one parcel with the proposed area in Redmond Ridge was inside a 1,000-foot buffer and did not qualify under the state regulations that are part of the voter-approved Initiative 502, which legalized recreational use of marijuana.

“With the passing of the amended ordinance, our neighborhood feels the council was responsive to unincorporated area residents that they govern,” Boon said.

Lambert added, “I truly believe that the residents of Redmond Ridge made a huge difference in the outcome of this legislation. What encourages me the most is that the result is a great civics lesson about the power of community involvement to change an outcome. This was grassroots at its best.”

She said because most of the other King County Council members are not familiar with her district, having members of the community contact them, speak at public hearings and provide feedback helps support her because they back up what she tells her fellow council members regarding the area.

“It means that I’m not alone on these topics,” she said about the community support. “I feel like in the future…I have an army now.”

Boon said rallying together to keep marijuana processing plants out of their community was a big learning experience for Redmond Ridge, Redmond Ridge East and other nearby neighborhoods.

“We are better prepared for involvement on future topics concerning our areas,” she said. “This issue has provided a great learning experience and has brought the community even closer together.”

COUNTY REGULATIONS

King County Council unanimously adopted legislation on Monday modifying county building codes and development regulations for the siting of recreational marijuana businesses licensed by Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB).

In 2012, state voters adopted I-502, which legalized the purchase, possession and use of small amounts of marijuana by state residents 21 years and older. The initiative also established the means for regulating the production, processing, sales and taxing of marijuana.

As outlined in I-502, the legislation prevents any of these operations from being established within 1,000 feet of a number of facilities including schools, public parks, day care centers, arcades and libraries.

The adopted ordinance does not impact the production, processing and sale of medicinal marijuana. Those businesses will continue to be governed by current county codes.

The legislation adopted by the council — which is in effect only in the unincorporated areas within King County — sets the regulations on the production, processing and sale of marijuana in those communities:

Production

  • Outdoor and greenhouse growing would be allowed in the agricultural (A) zone as a permitted use up to 2,000 square feet.
  • Outdoor and greenhouse growing would be allowed in the rural area (RA) zone as a permitted use up to 2,000 square feet and as a conditional use up to 30,000 square feet.
  • Indoor growing would be allowed in the community business (CB) and regional business (RB) zone as a permitted use up to 2,000 square feet and as a conditional use up to 30,000 square feet.
  • Indoor growing would be allowed in the industrial (I) zone as a permitted use up to 30,000 square feet.

Processing

  • Light processing as an accessory use to production would be allowed in the A and RA zones as a permitted use up to 2,000 square feet.
  • Light processing would be allowed in the CB and RB zones outside of the urban growth area as a permitted use up to 2,000 square feet and as a conditional use up to 30,000 square feet.
  • Processing would be allowed in the CB and RB zones and inside of the urban growth area as a permitted use up to 2,000 square feet and as a conditional use up to 30,000 square feet.
  • Processing would be allowed in the I zone as a permitted use up to 30,000 square feet.

Retail

  • Retail sales would be allowed in the CB and RB zones as a permitted use up to 2,000 square feet.

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