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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Kraig Chalem, Associate Planner-Resource Stewardship Dept. at chalemk@co.thurston.wa.us or (360) 754-3355 x2097

Public comment invited on amendments of interim regulations

OLYMPIA - The Thurston County Board of County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, January 5, at 5:30 p.m. to accept public testimony on amending the interim zoning regulations for state-licensed marijuana producers, processors and retailers.

County commissioners are conducting a public hearing and taking comment on amendments to the marijuana interim zoning regulations which are currently set to expire in May. County staff has recommended that the county's current interim regulations as amended be extended by six months so that staff can develop and refine a proposal for permanent marijuana zoning regulations that is consistent with any state laws that may be approved during the legislative session.

For more detailed information about the proposal to extend the interim regulations, and to view the full text of Ordinance No. 15210, go to www.ThurstonPlanning.org and click on the link for the January 5th Board of County Commissioners hearing under the "News and Links" section.

Background:Washington State licenses marijuana producers, processors, and retailers under RCW 69.50. The state began to take applications for licenses on November 18, 2013. Thurston County did not have regulations governing such uses in its zoning regulations, and therefore passed Ordinance No. 14978 enacting interim regulations until final regulations could be considered and recommended to the Thurston County Board of County Commissioners by the Thurston County Planning Commission. State law allows for the interim regulations to be extended up to six months, and requires a public hearing be held for a proposed extension.

The interim regulations amended the Thurston County Code to add Chapter 20.63 for the rural county, Chapter 21.103 for the unincorporated Lacey Urban Growth Area, Chapter 22.65 for the Tumwater Urban Growth Area, and Chapter 23.91 for the unincorporated Olympia Urban Growth Area. In summary, the amended ordinance adds special screening requirements for marijuana producers and processor. Hoop green houses are not considered permanent structures. Minimum lot sizes are now required for producers. Notification requirements have also been added for marijuana producers and processors. State Environmental Policy Act review will be required for marijuana producers, processors and retailers with new buildings over 8,000 square feet (Chapter 17.09 TCC), and repealed the prohibition of new retailers outside Urban Growth Areas. Marijuana producers will be restricted from residential zoning districts throughout unincorporated Thurston County. Production and processing are permitted in most zones that permit either agricultural uses or industrial uses, and retailing is permitted in most commercial zones.

WHAT: Public Hearing on Six-Month Extension of Interim Marijuana Regulations

WHEN: Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2015, at 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: County Courthouse Building One, Room 280 at 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW in Olympia, 98502

The public is invited to participate in an informed discussion, and testimony will be accepted at the Jan. 5th hearing. Written comments may be submitted in lieu of testimony at the hearing. Written comments can be emailed to Kraig Chalem, Associate Planner, at chalemk@co.thurston.wa.us, or mailed to:

Thurston County Resource Stewardship Department
Land Use and Permitting, ATTN: Kraig Chalem
2000 Lakeridge Drive SW
Olympia, WA 98502

The deadline for written comments is 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 5th. County commissioners may choose to approve the Interim Ordinance, as amended, at the end of the Jan. 5th public hearing, or they may request that staff make changes to the proposal following the public hearing.



County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3