Citizens weigh in on proposed pot rules

Retail outlets for the sale of recreational marijuana should be considered for commercial as well as industrial zones in the city, citizens with vested interests in the issue said in a public hearing before the Aberdeen City Council Wednesday evening.

Currently, an interim zoning ordinance confines the sale, processing and production of marijuana to the light industrial and industrial zones within the city limits of Aberdeen. It also bans medical marijuana collective gardens.

Lately, momentum has been building to change the zoning to allow a retail outlet and possibly production and processing of marijuana within areas designated for general commercial use. Support for the move was expressed at a recent meeting of the Planning Commission, which plans to hold a public meeting on the subject in January.

Both citizens who spoke during the public hearing have an interest in property within commercially zoned areas that might work for the retail sale of pot. Aberdeen has been granted one license for a retail outlet by the state.

First to speak was Glen Ramiskey, who, with his wife Andrea, owns the building housing a closed state liquor store and Las Mulitas Mexican restaurant at 216 W. Heron St. He spoke in favor of including commercially zoned areas, highly trafficked areas, for the retail sale of marijuana.

A number of vacant properties could be good for a retail outlet, he said.

He pointed out that their property had been involved in the taxed and controlled sale of alcohol for 35 years “without incident.” He noted that Safeway across the street now sells “liquor, drugs and cigarrettes.” Both are on a traffic corridor that is in close proximity to police and fire departments.

The city should not deter the commercial zoning, he said, noting that the the state will be vigilant in requiring “rigid and exacting standards for the sale of marijuana,” standards for locations, security and other measures that are tougher than those for alcohol sales. State law would protect citizens while allowing city and business officials to band together to help fill vacant buildings in downtown Aberdeen, he said.

Ramiskey asked that retail marijuana sales be opened up to commercial areas to give prospective retailers the chance to explore all options. He asked that they weigh carefully recommendations from the Planning Commission after the public meeting in January.

Leann Pugsley also spoke and wanted to find out more about the zoning prospects. She concurred with Ramiskey about expanding zoning options, particularly for retail sale.

Pugsley has applied for a retail license to sell recreational marijuana in Aberdeen listing a tentative address of 1022 E. Wishkah St., Suite B, according to the application. It’s an area also designated for commercial use, near two fast food restaurants.

Pugsley thinks a lot of problems with drug dealers on the streets might be mitigated by having a “nice safe store” and said that’s a “good location.” And pot sales will produce tax revenue for the city, too, she said. She has also applied for a retail outlet in Hoquiam.

No one representing production and processing interests spoke at the hearing.


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