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Vader postponing moratorium to examine options

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After much discussion and debate, the Vader City Council has postponed voting on allowing or prohibiting a state-licensed recreational marijuana production facility to be built in city limits.

Councilman Kevin Flynn proposed implementing a six-month moratorium on marijuana production during the council’s Nov. 5 meeting.

"There is so much to study," Flynn said. "I don’t want to make a decision before the facts are in. I’m not going to stick my neck out for this."

Mayor Ken Smith explained to the council that because marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled substance, federal law will trump state law.

"You would be liable for your participation and expose yourselves to liability," Smith said.

He said the city could also avoid liability by requiring growers to get a written exemption from the U.S. Attorney General’s office.

Smith tabled conversation on the subject until the council’s next meeting on Nov. 19, whereupon official paperwork could be presented for a moratorium, a public hearing could be held and a more informed vote could be made.

Seattle businessman and Vader landowner Brandon Milton told the council after their decision to table the issue that moratoriums are meant to "put the pause button" on an issue, and are typically used by cities that don’t have pending applications.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board will begin accepting applications on Nov. 18, and it is possible Mr. Milton could be approved for a legal marijuana production license before Vader’s moratorium takes effect.

"The biggest consideration is legal costs. It’s not cheap when things go wrong," Milton said. "A moratorium doesn’t change the state licensing process. I will file my application this month."

In other business, the council received an update on the water system transfer agreement. The council set a public hearing for Dec. 3.

"This is yet another step forward for sewer development for the city of Vader," Smith said.

During a public comment period before start of the Nov. 5 meeting, Smith said an early draft of next year’s city budget included a sewer rate increase of between $6 a month and $53 a month, depending on the contractor.

"Rates weren’t being raised at a regular rate and it put us behind," said City Clerk Jill Nielson. "We’ve got to show them we’re willing to slowly raise costs with the cost of living."

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