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Originally published Monday, December 9, 2013 at 8:48 PM

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Redmond Ridge residents win pot fight

Redmond Ridge residents succeeded in keeping pot businesses out of their community as the Metropolitan King County Council approved zoning for pot growing, processing and retail in unincorporated areas.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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Redmond Ridge residents will not get pot businesses in their community after a vote Monday by the Metropolitan King County Council to override a proposal by County Executive Dow Constantine.

The council voted to remove Redmond Ridge’s business park from areas in unincorporated King County that could have pot production and processing facilities. But the council did approve most of Constantine’s overall proposal that would allow pot production, processing and retail sales in parts of unincorporated King County, home to about 325,000 residents.

Entrepreneurs applied for a 30,000-square-foot indoor growing operation in Redmond Ridge’s business park. Constantine had submitted a zoning plan that would have allowed pot production and processing there.

Redmond Ridge residents packed the council chambers through a four-hour meeting. They argued that their community was full of children, and that pot facilities would be better located in more rural areas.

They stood and applauded after the vote.

“The council has proven they do not listen to only one person and one big business. They rightly listened to citizens, too,” said Jen Boon, president of the Redmond Ridge Residential Owners Association.

Led by Councilmember Kathy Lambert of Redmond, the council voted 5-4 to exclude Redmond Ridge from pot business zoning.

She was joined by the council’s other three Republicans — Reagan Dunn, Jane Hague and Pete von Reichbauer — and Democrat Julia Patterson of SeaTac.

Lambert argued that Redmond Ridge was densely populated and that allowing pot facilities there was “not good public policy.”

A petition residents submitted to the council said the community has 530 persons per square mile. That’s less than one person per acre.

Bellevue is seven times as dense, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Patterson praised the tenacious residents for their civility. But she lamented that pot facilities might now be sited in areas where people aren’t as affluent and as organized as those of Redmond Ridge, where the average household income is $156,000, according to the U.S. census.

She noted that her vote conflicted with a “social-justice position.” But she said there was enough doubt about the appropriateness of a pot business in Redmond Ridge to sway her.

Redmond Ridge residents expressed concerns about odors, fire danger and crime that might come with an indoor pot farm in their community. But the state’s rules for legal pot businesses require fingerprinting, background checks, strict security and surveillance.

The rules do not allow pot consumption in licensed facilities, nor sales except to other licensed businesses.

Damon Shelton, one of the applicants for a Redmond Ridge pot business, wrote to council members that the fears of residents “carry weight but no facts.”

In a unanimous vote, the council approved Constantine’s overall zoning plan for unincorporated areas.

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.

Seattle Times researcher Gene Balk contributed to this report.

Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or byoung@seattletimes.com

On Twitter: @potreporter



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