Laws governing where retail marijuana businesses may locate within Spokane County became permanent Tuesday, with additional language warning growers they must adhere to clean air laws or face potential enclosure of their farms.
County commissioners voted unanimously in favor of an amendment to the zoning code that allows marijuana farms in certain rural areas, and at least 300 feet from the nearest residence. The law also carves out the industrial areas where processing and retailers may locate within unincorporated portions of Spokane County.
Last year, many county residents testified to a review commission about odor problems they were having with farms. John Pederson, Spokane County building and planning director, said much of the public testimony was in favor of the zoning codes, with 73 in favor of keeping the existing laws permanently and 14 testifying against them.
Added Tuesday to the law was a notification to potential marijuana business owners that they must conform to regulations outlined by the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency or face penalties that could include “completely enclosing the operation and recirculating ventilation air within the enclosure.”
County Commissioner Al French, chairman of the Clean Air Agency’s board of directors, said the language serves as a reminder to business owners of the repercussions they may face if they ignore nuisance odors leaving their property.
“We wanted to be able to say, at least the county’s going to provide notice to those getting in the business that you have to be good neighbors,” he said.
No public testimony was taken Tuesday.
Meanwhile, testimony was passionate on both sides of the issue Tuesday night as the Spokane Valley City Council held a required hearing on its proposed one-year moratorium on pot businesses.
The council adopted an emergency moratorium Dec. 9, halting all new marijuana businesses except those regulated by the state. Deputy City Attorney Erik Lamb said the moratorium does not affect existing businesses.
No vote was taken at the meeting.
Kip Hill and Pia Hallenberg
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