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Spokane County may allow indoor marijuana growing

Spokane County commissioners are fine-tuning regulations for legal marijuana production to allow indoor growing operations in light industrial zones in unincorporated parts of the county.

Commissioners last month approved an interim zoning ordinance allowing both growing and processing operations within the light industrial zones under county jurisdiction. Cities have to establish their own zoning rules.

On Tuesday, the commissioners set a public hearing for 2 p.m. on Jan. 7 to consider making the interim ordinance permanent. The hearing will be in the Commissioners Hearing Room in the lower level of the Public Works Building, 1026 W. Broadway Ave.

So far, the county has received a dozen applications for marijuana growing and processing businesses, but no applications for any retail outlets in unincorporated areas.

The state has allocated up to seven retail licenses in the unincorporated county following voter approval of Initiative 502 last year.

In the first batch of applications, the state reported that 43 businesses were seeking licenses across all of Spokane County for the three types of marijuana businesses, including applications inside cities.

County zoning regulations governing legal marijuana businesses are similar to those approved by the city of Spokane. In general, the businesses are being kept away from residential neighborhoods.

In addition, the county is allowing licensed marijuana growing in its agricultural areas.

Under rules adopted by the Washington state Liquor Control Board, the retail shops will be allowed to sell only marijuana, marijuana-infused products and paraphernalia. They cannot be within 1,000 feet of an elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center, child care center, park, transit center, library or arcade.

There are no limits on the number of licenses for growing or processing facilities. However, growing facilities will be limited to a total of 2 million square feet statewide.

Other business

• Commissioners approved a new development rule that will require a 14-day notice to neighbors of any proposed project in the city-county joint planning area that must go through public hearing for a zone change, subdivision, variance or other permit. The change also requires the proponent to submit verification that the notice was made in advance as required.

This change resulted from complaints in the Glenrose area over lack of notice for additions to the urban growth area earlier this year.

• Also, the commissioners approved holding an April 22 election in the Spokane Valley portion of the Spokane County Library District to seek approval of $22 million in library improvements.

• The commissioners also heard a report from staff at the Spokane Conservation District on plans to offer grants and low-interest loans to help residents with failing septic tank systems to repair or replace them.

The program will fund about eight projects a year for five years with a total of about $800,000 in state funding. Staff members said plenty of residents could use the help and the projects would protect local water quality.



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