We reported April 23 that the Edmonds City Council voted to place marijuana retail locations on Highway 99. That story was based on statements by city staff during the April 22 council meeting, that although there are several business zones that are allowable under the ordinance that was passed by the council, the reality is that state-required buffers for facilities like daycare, schools and parks appear to eliminate nearly all of those locations as possibilities. What’s left, in essence, is the Edmonds portion of Highway 99.
However, City Planning Manager Rob Chave sent out a clarifying note on Thursday noting that much depends on what types of facilities are in those neighborhoods at the time that the retail marijuana facilities are actually licensed. Chave also noted that city staff have further revised the buffer map (see above) to include additional schools and arcade areas near Highway 99, which “further reduces potential locations for marijuana businesses in the city, especially along Highway 99.
“There are very, very few potential locations that remain,” he added.
Here’s a review of the issues:
First, a reminder that the three categories of marijuana businesses, created as a result of the passage of citizen Initiative 502 in November 2013 are producers, processors and retailers. According to Chave:
Marijuana producers and processors are considered to be ‘wholesale’ businesses (defined that way by the state). The only zones that the city has that allow wholesale businesses are the CG and CG2 zones, so those are the appropriate zones for producers and processors to locate in. CG and CG2 zones are located along Highway 99, and also at Harbor Square. Buffers established in I-502 end up removing Harbor Square as a possibility, and also remove most of Highway 99 from consideration.
Marijuana retailers are, obviously, retail businesses. The ordinance adopted by Council allows marijuana retailers in most of the city’s commercial zones — not just CG and CG2 — and specifically in commercial zones in these areas (taken directly from the ordinance passed Tuesday).
Marijuana retailers, Chave said, are permitted only in the BC, BD, BN, CG and CG2 zones that lie within the boundaries of the following areas designated on the city’s Comprehensive Plan Map:
-The Downtown/Waterfront Activity Center
-The Medical/Highway 99 Activity Center
-The Westgate Community Commercial Area
-The Five Corners Neighborhood Commercial Area
-The Perrinville Neighborhood Commercial Area
-The Highway 99 Corridor
-The Edmonds Way Corridor
Marijuana retailers are not permitted in any other zone or Comprehensive Plan area not listed above.
“The main limiting factor on locations for all marijuana businesses are the buffers that I-502 set (and these are included in the Liquor Control Board’s rules),” Chave wrote. “The City has no ability to reduce these buffers – they were established in the initiative and implemented by the Liquor Control Board. Many of the buffers are attached to things that aren’t likely to ‘move’ – esp. parks and schools.”
However, Chave noted that there is one buffered use subject to change, and that is child care facilities — “it is quite possible that areas that are currently within a buffer may be open to a marijuana retailer at a future point in time,” he said. For example, in the Five Corners neighborhood, the south half of the area is largely covered by a school buffer, while the northern half is covered by a day-care buffer. “So while currently no marijuana retailer could locate at FIve Corners, it doesn’t mean one couldn’t locate there at a future point in time… largely depends on whether the day care stays where it is.”
“The main limitation on where retailers can locate ends up being the buffers that were established in I-502,” Chave continued. “The city could add its own additional restrictions, but the I-502 buffers are minimums that the city can’t reduce or waive.”
We have included a link to the ordinance passed by the council here.