Buckley sets moratorium on marijuana growing, processing

Buckley is certainly no stranger to marijuana sales – two retail shops operate within the city limits – but local leaders have drawn a line in the sand: no growing and no processing, for now.

The Buckley City Council voted in a six-month emergency ban for marijuana producers and processors. File image.

Buckley is certainly no stranger to marijuana sales – two retail shops operate within the city limits – but local leaders have drawn a line in the sand: no growing and no processing, for now.

The issue of expanding the world of weed was put to a vote of the Buckley City Council Oct. 11. And it was presented in “emergency” status, meaning the issue was addressed and voted upon in a single session. Usually, items go before the council twice before getting a final vote.

For the uninitiated, the Evergreen State’s foray into legal, recreational marijuana has opened the door on three fronts. The product must first be grown, then processed and, finally, sold on the retail market.

Buckley is reaping the financial benefits of having two stores in town. Recently, others in the marijuana chain have expressed an interest of locating in the small town.

According to a recent staff memo that went to city administration, “due to prohibitions and bans in surrounding areas the city is receiving an inordinate amount of interest from parties desiring to locate production and/or processing facilities in the city’s commercial zones.”

With that, it was recommended the city approve a six-month moratorium on both the production and processing of marijuana. The item was passed.

The reason, at least in print, had nothing to do with ethical or legal concerns about marijuana use. Rather, it was pointed out that marijuana growers and processors do not have to pay the same retail sales tax as others who might operate in Buckley’s commercial zone.

“The city has very limited amount of commercial land available for development and the loss of potential commercial space can have a direct impact on the city’s ability…to provide public services in its commercial areas,” the staff memo read.

The six-month moratorium is designed to give members of the Buckley Planning Commission time to evaluate impacts of marijuana production and processing, then decide if changes to the city’s zoning regulations might be warranted.

In other action during their Oct. 11 meeting, members of the Buckley City Council:

• entered into a lease/purchase agreement with Kelly and Don Burbank for the city-owned site that formerly housed Del’s Farm Supply. The arrangement calls for the Burbanks to purchase the building at 117 N. River Ave., while the city maintains ownership of the land and leases it to the Burbanks.

The building is being sold for its appraised market value, minus the cost of needed structural repairs, resulting in a final purchase price of $20,000.

• agreed to a proposal that will have Seattle-based American Medical Response continuing to provide emergency medical services in the city. It’s a renewal of a previous contract with no rate increases. The city and AMR will meet in September 2017 to consider a new agreement.

• signed off on the skatepark reconstruction project. The city had contracted with Grindline Skateparks Inc., a Seattle firm, to take down the old skatepark and build a new, safer attraction. The final cost of the project was a bit more than $165,000.

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