Everett closer to enacting a permanent pot ordinance

EVERETT — For the first time since the legal marijuana shops opened a year ago, the city of Everett is moving toward a permanent ordinance regulating how and where the new businesses will operate.

Everett has been operating under six-month temporary ordinances since November 2013.

Since then, three retail stores have opened in the city, but no marijuana production or processing businesses have opened. Businesses and residents have been waiting and lobbying the city to adopt a permanent measure.

The current ordinance expires July 27.

The newest proposal came before the City Council June 24. As recommended by the Planning Commission, the ordinance would loosen a few strictures in place, but tighten others that have drawn some criticism from some others.

In an unusual move, however, Mayor Ray Stephanson’s administration is asking the City Council to consider an alternative that would continue many of the restrictions on the books now.

The main differences between the new proposal and the current rules are:

Allowing producer-processor businesses to open that have more than 2,000 square feet of growing area;

Allowing retail sales in the C2-ES zone, which surrounds Everett Station;

Allowing production or processing facilities in the Maritime Services zone, but only in a building that straddles the line into the M2 manufacturing zone (a narrow description that includes just one building in the city);

Reducing the separation requirement between producing-processing facilities and residential zones to 500 feet from 1,000 square feet; and

Establishing design standards for retail stores.

The city’s alternative would maintain most of the current restrictions and add one more: a minimum buffer of 1,000 square feet between each production-processing facility, in order to prevent the clustering of businesses.

Left out of both the planning commission’s proposal and the city’s alternative, but which has drawn some public support, is the idea of including churches on a list of sensitive uses.

No marijuana facility can operate within a 1,000-foot radius of those areas, which include schools, parks, playgrounds, child care centers, recreation centers, public transit centers, libraries or game arcades that are not restricted to people age 21 or older.

Allan Giffen, the city’s director of planning and community development, told the council July 24 that one of the retail stores now open, High Society, located at 1824 Broadway, is within 1,000 feet of a church.

“If churches are added to sensitive land uses, it would be noncompliant,” Giffen said.

Giffen had previously told the city’s planning commission that businesses made noncompliant by a new ordinance would be allowed to continue operating.

Bob McGowan, a Snohomish resident who said he attends church in Everett, asked the council to consider not just the zoning issues, but also the health effects of the drug on young people.

“I’ve very familiar with the retail side of marijuana. I’m also familiar with how addictive it was for me,” said McGowan, who was active in getting marijuana businesses banned in Snohomish.

Philip Dawdy, a Seattle marijuana activist, encouraged the city to allow the establishment of a producer-processor businesses in the former Jeld-Wen door factory in the maritime area of northwest Everett, where his client wants to operate.

He cited the rising trend of decriminalization and legalization across the country as a sign of a thriving marketplace.

“We certainly hope you’ll allow some production in Everett,” Dawdy said.

The City Council is expected to review the proposed ordinance at its July 1 and July 8 meetings. A public hearing is also scheduled for July 8 before the final vote.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

Public hearing

A public hearing will be held during the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, July 8, on a proposed permanent ordinance governing marijuana businesses. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the William E. Moore Historic City Hall building, 3002 Wetmore Ave.

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