Now that Washington state is set to approve licenses for legal marijuana growers and sellers, some residents of King County’s Redmond Ridge neighborhood are saying “not in our backyard.”
About 30 people turned out Monday at a Metropolitan King County Council meeting to speak against a proposed indoor pot-growing and processing operation in a community business park.
The residents say there are too many children in the area, and they worry about crime, fires and even the smell of marijuana wafting from the warehouse.
The council is considering a new zoning plan for unincorporated parts of King County to determine where to allow outdoor and indoor marijuana farms and retail stores, The Seattle Times reports.
“You can do it somewhere, but don’t do it in a neighborhood where there are kids,” testified one woman at the public hearing.
The newly adopted state rules prohibit marijuana businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of a school, park or other place where children would frequent.
The rules also limit the size of growing operations and mandate numerous security measures, prompting KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney to wonder what the big deal is, especially since 57 percent of voters in unincorporated King County approved Initiative 502.
“If it was in my neighborhood of Greenwood I don’t think I would have a problem, but I guess I’d have to wait and see. It’s got to be somewhere.”
KIRO Radio’s John Curley wonders how much opposition really exists in the neighborhood.
“How many of them voted for the pot legalization? They might not have been for this to begin with, so there might be more outrage among these 30,” he says.
While the state has set many of the rules for the new businesses, zoning and other regulations are up to local jurisdictions like King County.
Curley, who also serves as a Sammamish City Council member, predicts the county will ultimately limit marijuana operations where there is the greatest opposition such as on Redmond Ridge. And Tangney predicts the fight is just the first of many.
“The significance is this is going to happen all over the state and there are going to be people objecting wherever pot farms spring up around the state.”
As for the businesses trying to set up their operation in Redmond Ridge, a representative told the council they specifically chose the location because it wasn’t near schools, parks, or residential areas.
“What did you expect?” says Curley. “This is what happens when you vote yes on it because it seems like a good idea and it grows up into your backyard.”