Just a month after banning marijuana operations within 1,000 feet of recreational trails, Spokane Valley appears to be reconsidering the move after commercial real estate brokers, landlords and pot entrepreneurs warned it's driving away potential new jobs.
Industrial property north of the Spokane River, where several potential pot processing operations are hoping to locate, was rendered off limits by the city's interim zoning restrictions adopted in February because the southern property line is barely within 1,000 feet of the Centennial Trail on the other side of the Spokane River. Landowners suggested the river is its own natural buffer zone between the trail and the potential marijuana operations.
City Council members agreed.
"I think we need to use some common sense," said Councilman Bill Bates.
The required buffer around recreational trails in Spokane Valley is in addition to the state-mandated buffer zones around parks and schools.
Mayor Dean Grafos wants a proposed amendment drafted that would impose the local buffer restrictions on retail operations only, which effectively would clear the way for the industrial property north of the river.
The proposal likely will be considered next month.
But some council members don't want people getting the wrong idea.
"I still don't like marijuana (and) ... wish we could just ban it," said Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard. "But I think the intent of what we were trying to do was prevent families from being accosted by it, and I think the river becomes a pretty good barrier.”