The Vader City Council has again renewed a temporary zoning ban against medical and recreational marijuana businesses, with a timeline in place for a permanent ban to be considered by sometime this spring.
Approved during the council's Jan. 8 meeting, the ban, affecting all businesses intending to grow, process or sell medical or recreational marijuana, but not limiting personal use, had originally been approved a year ago and has now been extended another six months, allowing for the completion of a land use impact study, a study of how marijuana businesses have operated in other areas, as well a review and recommendation from the Vader Planning Commission.
The ban had first been enacted Jan. 23 of last year after an opinion from State Attorney General Bob Ferguson was issued Jan. 16, 2014, stating cities and counties retain the right to restrict such businesses, even though recreational marijuana use among adults is now legal in Washington.
The council had considered an opportunity on Sept. 25, 2014, to make the ban permanent, but decided they should wait until further reviews are completed to make sure it would withstand legal scrutiny.
As of their Jan. 8 meeting, the city expects to complete a study of the effects of state-licensed marijuana businesses in Washington, Colorado and other areas by next month, while a land use study is expected to be completed by early March.
After this point, the Planning Commission will begin holding public hearings and workshops necessary to forward a recommendation to the council.
It is worth noting the Planning Commission had been expected to complete such tasks in recent months, but City Planner Rob White, who was leading the process, resigned in October and the city is currently seeking an applicant to fill his position.
The council expects to hold a public hearing on Feb. 12 at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall to take testimony regarding the renewal of the current ban. Those expecting to attend will be allowed three minutes to speak before officials, unless otherwise extended, and those not expecting to attend may submit their comments in writing beforehand.
During the last hearing regarding the first extension of the ban, which took place Sept. 10, 2014, some residents expressed frustration regarding time limits set on speakers, and Council Member Kevin Flynn stated this upcoming hearing should take as long as is needed for everyone to be heard.
"We're not going to cut them off, I would say," he stated, adding the hearing will not conclude at 6 p.m. when the regular council meeting is scheduled, but would take as long as it needs to.
Those seeking more information, including how to submit written feedback to the council, may contact City Hall at (360) 295-3222. Those wishing to listen to past meetings of the council, such as their last decision to extend the ban on July 10, 2014, may access such recordings for free at www.youtube.com/user/vaderwa.