Walla Walla County to hear from public on marijuana businesses

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin (WA), 2014-09-01

Sept. 01 -- WALLA WALLA -- Walla Walla County could have regulations for recreational marijuana operations -- or a continued ban -- following a public hearing Tuesday morning before county commissioners.

After taking public comment, commissioners will discuss and possibly take action or give directions to staff.

Commissioners enacted a one-year moratorium on zoning for marijuana operations last September. They then directed the county Planning Commission to make recommendations for growing, processing and sale of pot in county areas.

Walla Walla County commissioners will meet 11 a.m. Tuesday on the second floor of the county Public Health and Legislative Building , 314 W. Main St. , in Walla Walla .

Commissioners told planners to make no recommendation on whether to enact an outright ban, saying they will consider that issue when it comes before them.

The Planning Commission issued zoning recommendations in June. The proposed amendments to the county code would restrict marijuana operations to two areas close to the city of Walla Walla zoned as heavy industrial.

Pot operations also would have a 1,000-foot setback from any residential area and all marijuana facilities would require conditional use permits to operate.

Marijuana grow operations would be restricted to indoor facilities only, with a maximum of 1,400 square feet of growing space, the smallest type allowed by the state Liquor Control Board .

The two heavy industrial areas where marijuana operations could be sited are located along Dell Avenue and adjacent to Highway 125 north of the Walla Walla city limits. They are among four areas in the county zoned as heavy industrial.

The remaining two spots are a small zone along Woodland Avenue and in the Burbank area. The former was eliminated by the Planning Commission due to the 1,000-foot setback requirement, and the Burbank area was ruled out due to its distance from law enforcement facilities.

Although not recommended by planners, according to Tuesday's agenda county commissioners might also consider allowing marijuana operations as conditional uses in areas zoned for light industrial use, with the same 1,000-foot buffer zone from residential areas. Commissioners may also consider an extension of the current moratorium, which prohibits all recreational marijuana businesses.

Walla Walla County will not be the only jurisdiction dealing with marijuana zoning this week.

Columbia County commissioners are scheduled to hold a public hearing at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday on proposed zoning ordinances for pot operations as well. That hearing will be at the Columbia County Courthouse in Dayton .


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