Council committee to recommend pot passage

Commercial marijuana “production, processing and retailing” for recreational use will be allowed in areas designated for light industrial and industrial use if the Aberdeen City Council follows the recommendation of the public works committee to pass interim zoning changes.

The committee agreed late Tuesday afternoon to recommend that the council pass the interim zoning ordinance at the council meeting Wednesday night. The proposed measure will be fast-tracked and may be passed on third reading the same night, Chairman Tim Alstrom said. If it passes, a public hearing on the ordinance, number 13-11, must be held within 60 days.

The interim zoning change is temporary and lasts six months, to give the city time to set up permanent zoning regulations and allow for a review by the Planning Commission.

Due to an error of omission, the ordinance is not on the current council agenda, Alstrom said. Alstrom was joined by Councilmembers Alan Richrod and Margo Shortt in supporting the recommendation to pass. Committee member Jerry Mills said he had not made up his mind yet. The majority chose the zoning change option over a continuation or an extension of the moratorium on all pot activities, initially supported by Shortt.

The state has determined how many retail outlets will be allowed, if any, in each community and Aberdeen has been allotted one. It would be licensed by the state liquor control board.

If it passes, the city will meet the state board’s date to begin accepting applications on Nov. 18, and prevent or diminish possible legal challenges.

It also respects the will of Aberdeen’s voters who supported recreational pot law by majority vote, City Attorney Eric Nelson said.

While allowing for retail sale, processing and production, the proposed ordinance prohibits medical cannabis collective gardens in all zoning districts because their status is uncertain under state law. Medical marijuana use was passed before the recreational law.

Six months gives the state time to resolve issues concerning the collective gardens which act as dispensers for medical marijuana, Nelson and Alstrom said.