Redmond Ridge residents want county to block indoor pot-growing farm
The Metropolitan King County Council is considering zoning for pot businesses in unincorporated areas. Redmond Ridge residents are not happy that pot growers would be allowed in their community.
Seattle Times staff reporter
About 30 residents of Redmond Ridge told the Metropolitan King County Council on Monday that allowing legal indoor marijuana-growing in their community’s business park would be detrimental to their children.
It’s a dense community with a lot of children, they argued. Some offered concerns about crime, smell and fire. There has to be a better place for pot businesses, they said.
“The real issue is the proximity of an unknown and untested trailblazing pot-production plant that should have its test run elsewhere,” said Jen Boon, a mother of three and president of the Redmond Ridge Residential Owners Association.
Most from the community of more than 1,200 homes in unincorporated King County aren’t opposed to pot per se; 57 percent of them supported legal pot through last year’s Initiative 502.
Some acknowledged the proposed site appears legal because it would be more than 1,000 feet from prohibited areas, such as schools and parks. But they insisted it would still be wrong because of the proximity of children.
County Council members decided to delay a vote on pot zoning for one week, saying it needed more thorough review. “We heard significant testimony today,” said Councilmember Jane Hague.
At issue is a zoning plan for unincorporated parts of King County, home to 325,000 residents. The zoning would allow outdoor pot farms in rural and agricultural areas and indoor farms in community and regional business and industrial zones. Up to 11 retail stores would be allowed in community and regional business zones.
In the first week of applications for state-regulated pot-business licenses, two entrepreneurs — Red Ridge Farms and Triumph Cannabis —— sought to open growing and processing facilities in the Redmond Ridge business park.
Resident Julianne Bogaty noted that was about a third of a mile as the crow flies from a school.
Boon said she was concerned about smells and possible fires at a production facility. Others expressed concerns about crime, increased intoxication and youth access to marijuana.
“This is going to be an absolute magnet for crime,” said state Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, who also told council members he had concerns about what pot facilities might do to Redmond Ridge property values.
State officials have limited pot farms to 30,000 square feet, roughly three-quarters of an acre. They left zoning, permitting and safety rules for pot businesses to local jurisdictions to decide.
State rules call for the farms, processors and stores to be secure and kept under constant video surveillance.
State officials have made public safety their top priority in creating a legal marijuana industry. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is allowing the state to proceed, despite a federal ban on all pot, because the state is adhering to DOJ priorities, particularly for preventing youth access to marijuana.
Under state rules, every pot plant and every gram of marijuana from it will be tracked from seed-to-sale. If state watchdogs find that any pot is unaccounted for — and possibly diverted to the illicit market — it could lead to a business losing its license.
Pot entrepreneurs must also meet state residency requirements and undergo fingerprinting and thorough background checks.
Tim Hatley, representing Red Ridge Farms, said the local business park was specifically created at some distance from recreational, residential and school areas. Any pot-business applicants must still have their plans vetted by the state, Hatley noted, before they get a license.
Jack Smith, who first testified to the council about immigration policy, had a different view.
If residents believe legal pot will harm their children, Smith said, they should have been out in force opposing last year’s statewide vote to legalize adult possession of small amounts of pot.
“Loads of us can’t vote because we hold green cards,” said Redmond Ridge East resident Jasmina Cernak. “I can tell you 99 percent would be against legalization.”
Times staff reporter Justin Mayo contributed to this report.
Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @potreporter