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Arlington City Council extends marijuana moratorium

Arlington City Council member Sally Lien moves on Oct. 3 to extend the city’s moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens within the city limits, from six months to a full year. - Kirk Boxleitner
Arlington City Council member Sally Lien moves on Oct. 3 to extend the city’s moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens within the city limits, from six months to a full year.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — The Arlington City Council gave itself some extra time to consider the issue of medical marijuana during their Oct. 3 meeting.

After a public hearing during which no one stepped up to offer any testimony, the Council voted unanimously to extend their moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens within the city limits, from six months to a full year, dating from Aug. 15 of this year.

David Kuhl, community development director for the city of Arlington, presented the proposed ordinance to the Council on Oct. 3, the last regular Council meeting date available within the state law-mandated 60-day window for holding a public hearing, after the initial moratorium.

“In the last month, city of Arlington officials have met with the community development and police departments of Lake Stevens and Marysville,” Kuhl said. “We’ve been working together on our code language to prevent this issue from pitting our cities against each other. The fact that they were looking at extending their six-month moratoriums to a full year prompted us to consider it as well.”

The ordinance is intended to allow the three cities time enough not only to review their options on regulating medical marijuana operations, but also to establish regulations that would be consistent between the three jurisdictions, thereby ensuring a consistency in their approach.

“We’re looking at requirements to ensure that 1,000 feet exists between two collective gardens, or between a collective garden and any youth-oriented facility,” Kuhl said. “We’re also looking into building codes for ventilation requirements for such gardens, as well as their taxation.”

Although the Council often waits until their next regular meetings after public hearings on ordinances to vote on them, City Attorney Steve Peiffle recommended that the Council vote on the ordinance that same night, “unless you have particular concerns about it.”

Council members Linda Byrnes and Sally Lien were the only two who offered opinions that evening, with Byrnes echoing the desire to ensure consistency of enforcement on this matter between the jurisdictions of Arlington and its neighboring cities, while Lien agreed that it would take a while to sort through the laws on this subject.

Between now and the end of the year, city officials plan to consult land-use studies, American Planning Association reports, background from the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington, taxes, existing operations, legal issues, health and safety concerns, building code issues and business license approaches. From January through March of next year, they expect to develop codes for Arlington alongside officials from Lake Stevens and Marysville, in time for the draft revisions of those codes to be ready by April of 2012.

May of 2012 is set to include work sessions of the Arlington City Council and Planning Commission on these codes, as well as advertisements for the public hearings to be scheduled for June 5 before the Planning Commission and July 2 before the City Council. The subsequent ordinance should be published between July 10-15, in time for it to become effective on Aug. 15, 2012.

 

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