By Jack Mayne King County has suspended issuing of permits for retail pot stores in unincorporated areas of the county until officials get a better fix on the effects of such stores on area residents. Several applications for new stores in the unincorporated areas of the North Highline White Center are on hold, says County Council President Joe McDermott, who represents the northern parts of Burien, SeaTac and Tukwila, along with the North Highline and White Center unincorporated areas. McDermott says residents have told him that the impacts of marijuana sales have impacts on their lives. â€œIndividuals in rural communities have expressed concern that the security requirements (required in the initiative approved by voters) do not match the rural character of their neighborhood,â€ McDermott said in an email to the White Center and B-Town Blogs. â€œSpecific to North Highline, weâ€™ve heard concerns about a clustering of retail businesses,â€ the County Councilmember said. [caption id="attachment_99840" align="alignright" width="181"] Joe McDermott[/caption] McDermott, who is also running for Congress this year to replace namesake, but unrelated Congressman Jim McDermott, said the Council has imposed a moratorium on new pot stores in unincorporated King County. Too many were being clustered in unincorporated north King County, said resident Mark Johnston in an April 16 letter published in the White Center Blog. He said â€œ13 retail marijuana stores have been licensed in unincorporated King County â€¦ with six in White Center/North Highline.â€ McDermott said the county needed time to gauge the effect of pot stores on the local areas. â€œThe purpose of the moratorium approved by the County Council is to give us the opportunity to engage with communities to get a better understanding of how the marijuana industry is impacting them,â€ McDermott told the Blogs in a recent response. â€œThis time will also allow us to engage everyone â€“ neighbors, shop owners, growers, patients and others â€“ and hear their ideas for possible solutions to the issues theyâ€™re facing. This feedback received will inform our policy development.â€ But he said there was no thought of banning any new stores in the unincorporated areas. â€œThe voters overwhelmingly voted to legalize marijuana in our state,â€ McDermott said. â€œIt is the countyâ€™s job to make a workable policy that balances sufficient access to legal marijuana and its impact on communities.â€ He added that his â€œprimary concernâ€ is not about how much tax money is collected but is figuring out how to make marijuana available to residents in â€œa workable business climate and limited effect on communities.â€ That could affect tax revenue, but it is not â€œmy primary concern,â€ and noting that the projected county income from pot sales this fiscal year is less than $1 million. McDermott added, â€œthe permitting process will continue for businesses that submitted their applications prior to the moratorium being adopted.â€ The moratorium does not affect incorporated cities, only unincorporated King County. The City of Burien on Wednesday announcedÂ that Ekalo Teklehaimanot, of Living Well Enterprises LLC has applied to open a recreational marijuana retail Store at 17730 Ambaum Blvd. South (detailsÂ here). This would be Burienâ€™s second retail pot shop (of two allowed), with the first currently being built at the old KCâ€™s Family Restaurant located at 14325 First Ave South (read about that here). City officials say a decision on a business permit is still pending but expected soon, said city Communications Officer Katie Trefry. Kent and Federal Way do not permit location of marijuana stores in their cities.]]>
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