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Castle Rock promptly passes marijuana regulations

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After very little discussion, the Castle Rock City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Oct. 28 adding recreational marijuana facilities to their approved uses within the C-2 Highway Business District.

Located just east of Exit 48, the district is already zoned for medical marijuana collective gardens and was selected because of its distance from community-oriented facilities, as well as tourist traffic, according to City Planner TJ Keiran.

The ordinance, which will still require approval during a second reading Nov. 12 before becoming official, also establishes a conditional use permitting process for the facilities, which will require developers to apply for a permit from the city for any business related to the cultivation, processing or sale of recreational marijuana.

Owners of such businesses will also be required to report any illegal or suspicious activity taking place on their property, obscure all business activities from public view, and contain all odors and waste regardless of if they are an outdoor or indoor facility.

The ordinance as a whole changed very little since being reviewed by the Planning Commission Oct. 23, during which time commissioners heard public input before voting to pass the ordinance on to the council. Two residents had approached the commission requesting their properties be exempted from recreational marijuana use, as they are within C-2, and were granted their request in the ordinance approved by the council, which City Attorney Frank Randolph said would be an allowable action.

“As a practical matter, it does not probably matter,” he said of the request. “If they don’t want to sell [their property] or rent it to anybody for that use, it’s not going to be sold or rented.”

A separate request made to the Planning Commission, however, was found to be impractical, stated Randolph, after another resident asked for recreational marijuana facilities to be disallowed within 1,000 feet of residential areas for the sake of children living in and traveling through them.

“If that was the case, then there is no place you could have them,” said Randolph.

He further stated the ordinance before council members was, in his opinion, their most effective and legally-defensible option, as cities such as Kalama are taking no action and remain vulnerable to the wills of developers, while cities like Longview, Kelso and Woodland have passed moratoria and may be open to legal suits from developers.

“If you go the moratorium route, you’re going to be spending money on litigation,” cautioned Randolph. “Money that you use on legal battles you won’t have for sewer mains and roads and all that.”

After a motion was made to approve the ordinance, council members voted unanimously in support of it, with no members making statements for or against the establishment of recreational marijuana facilities. Randolph had acknowledged the topic of marijuana is able to evoke strong emotional reactions from individuals on both sides of the issue, but told his council their action was preferable to waiting for other municipalities to feel their way through the ins and outs of this new industry.

“We’re all stepping into an experiment,” he said. “It is better to try and do it in a controlled way than to do nothing.”

If the council approves the ordinance on its second reading Nov. 12, Randolph said it will go into effect immediately, as it has been classified as an emergency ordinance. He said this was done to beat the state’s Nov. 18 opening date for recreational marijuana licenses, as the effective date would have otherwise been Nov. 20 through normal procedures.

However, he clarified the ordinance’s emergency status did not affect the way it was reviewed or approved, and said it has been vetted through the normal processes required for city ordinances.

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