City Council will consider Burien Marijuana regulations Monday


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by Ralph Nichols

Burien council members will have before them for possible action at their Feb. 3 meeting three draft ordinances for regulating legal marijuana businesses in the city.

Interim City Manager Craig Knutson told the council following a lengthy discussion at their Jan. 27 study session that he would have the legislative options prepared by then since interim regulations adopted by the previous council last August expire in mid-February.

Washington voters statewide adopted Initiative 502, which legalized the recreational use and marketing of marijuana, in November 2012.

The first option – which was recommended by city staff, and mirrors the interim regulations now in place – would permit retail marijuana stores only in areas zoned commercial, with marijuana growing and processing operations permitted only in areas zoned industrial and airport industrial.

All such businesses would require staff-level review with the possibility of review, and would be prohibited from locating within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, libraries, parks, the transit center, and other places frequented by young people.

State-licensed retailers must comply with all requirements of state law and Liquor Control Board regulations. And they are not allowed to operate as an accessory to a primary use or as a home occupation.

The second option, Knutson said, is in response to concerns voiced by some at the study session about the impact growing and processing operations would have on their existing businesses in the city’s Northeast Redevelopment Area (NERA).

This draft ordinance would also permit retail marijuana stores only in areas zoned commercial, but would prohibit the growing and processing of marijuana in Burien – even in industrial zones.

The third option would just extend the interim regulations, perhaps for another six months, to allow time for further study.

If the council takes no action, the state law – without additional local regulations – would govern marijuana businesses in Burien.

Burien Community Development Director Chip Davis noted, in response to an inquiry by Mayor Lucy Krakowiak, that the marijuana initiative was easily approved in every voting precinct in the city.

Councilman Steve Armstrong questioned why final action on a marijuana ordinance had to be taken at this time.

Councilwoman Debi Wagner was the only member expressing outright opposition to allowing marijuana businesses in Burien, while Councilwoman Lauren Berkowitz said it was time to move forward and let the city benefit from this new commercial activity.

A number of local residents spoke, ranging in opinion from support for the proposed ordinance (now the first option the council will review) to concern about the impact of growing and processing on neighboring businesses to “just say no.”

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