July 17, 2014 in City

Liberty Lake keeps pot business ban

 

The last city in Spokane County with a ban on recreational marijuana businesses will keep its moratorium in place.

The Liberty Lake City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday night to continue a moratorium scheduled to expire in early August for another six months.

The council is wrestling with a tough public policy issue, City Administrator Katy Allen said.

If the moratorium is lifted, the city’s design code would still prohibit growers and processors in many areas because of state requirements for those businesses to have high security fencing and exterior lighting, Allen said. The city received two inquiries from potential store licensees, but both picked locations that did not fit zoning requirements, she said.

Liberty Lake is the only city in Spokane County with a moratorium on the books, but Medical Lake has a de facto ban for now. It passed a moratorium in December 2012, less than a month after voters approved recreational marijuana with Initiative 502 and extended it once, City Administrator Doug Ross said.

By the time the moratorium lapsed, however, the state had closed the window to apply for marijuana business licenses. All of the half dozen license applicants who list a Medical Lake address are outside the city limits. The agency has a significant backlog with thousands of applications pending and there’s no date yet for accepting new applications. In the meantime, the Medical Lake Planning Commission is developing recommendations for the City Council, Ross said.

The City of Cheney briefly had a moratorium that began last November, but that was replaced with a zoning ordinance in April to help regulate marijuana businesses, City Administrator Mark Schuller said. That city’s first marijuana grower just completed a purchase this week of property in an industrial park.

Jim Camden


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