Marijuana discussion continues in Redmond; public can take survey

Ever since recreational marijuana became legal in Washington in 2012, city staff has been looking into what this means and would look like for Redmond.

Ever since recreational marijuana became legal in Washington in 2012, city staff has been looking into what this means and would look like for Redmond.

For about three years, most of the discussion has been focused on the production and processing side of the business. Redmond was allotted two marijuana retail businesses but as previously reported, there was nowhere they could be located per the city’s zoning for retail businesses.

This may change as earlier this year, state legislation was passed that gave cities the option to reduce previous buffer zones between retail businesses and certain other uses down from 1,000 to 100 feet — or anything in between.

Jason Rogers, a senior planner in long-range planning for the City of Redmond, said the types of uses the buffer zones apply to include game arcades, libraries, recreation and community centers, daycare or childcare centers, transit centers and parks. The two exceptions to this are uses that are schools and playgrounds, meaning there still must be a 1,000-foot buffer between themselves and a marijuana retail business.

In addition to this legislation change, the city also received an application for a zoning code amendment regarding retail businesses.

With all of this in mind, Rogers said the city is seeking public input to see what the community’s thoughts are on the topic.

This input began with a workshop at City Hall on Dec. 10. Attendees included a real estate broker, the individual who submitted the zoning code amendment application, a representative from Higher Life Marijuana Boutique in Kirkland and a few residents.

The city has also put up an online survey on its website that people can take to provide feedback. The survey takes about two minutes to take and will be available through the end of January 2016. People can take the survey at

“We want to hear from people,” Rogers said.

He said some of the issues they discussed at the workshop and will continue to discuss include where marijuana retail shops should be located, how wide the aforementioned buffers should be and whether shops should be separated from each other. Some other points of discussion that came up during last week’s workshop included parking concerns and where and how people use marijuana.

Currently, while city staff is collecting public feedback, they are also working to come up with recommendations to present to the city’s Planning Commission in the first week of January 2016.

“(At this moment) staff does not have any recommendations,” said Lori Peckol, long-range planning manager for the city.

From there, the Planning Commission will continue to collect input and feedback from the public — this includes holding a public hearing on Jan. 27, 2016. The commission will then present its recommendations to City Council.

Peckol said the commission can present its recommendations as soon as after the public hearing if they complete their review then or it could take them until sometime in February.

City Council will take up the matter sometime in early March, she said. Council can decide to make an amendment to the city’s zoning code regarding retail businesses, reduce the required buffer zone or a combination of this. Or, Peckol said, they can decide to make no changes.

While Redmond was initially allotted two marijuana retail businesses, the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board increased the city’s number to four earlier this week.

Peckol said this means the city can give up to four licenses to marijuana retail businesses. However, it is hard to say if and how this will affect discussions on the topic as the city has not had to deal with retail businesses yet.