Some things are better off left unseen.
That appeared to be the message of the Spokane Valley City Council on Tuesday night, as members seemed to be a bit more comfortable with the production side of recreational marijuana taking place within 1,000 feet of municipal walking trails.
Retail pot sales, however, did not receive a similar green light.
“I still don’t like marijuana, and I wish we could just ban it,” said Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard. “However, it is state law and it is what it is.”
“Nondescript” manufacturing of marijuana for retail sale – no gaudy signs or neon pot leafs – could be OK’d by the council in coming weeks as it tries to wrestle with an unintended consequence of the 1,000-foot buffer requirement: The Spokane River. As it turns out, there are available industrial properties – and landowners willing to lease them – on the north side of the river across from the Centennial Trail that are technically less than 1,000 feet.
“Not only do you have the river but you also have the railroad tracks (providing a buffer,” said Paul Bielec, who owns property that could be used for the manufacturing and packaging of marijuana for retail sale. “We feel the (1,000-foot buffer) would be a burden for us.”
City Council members had initially sought the 1,000-foot buffer away from the Centennial Trail and the proposed Appleway Trail and included it in an interim ordinance passed last month. But Bielec’s testimony, which came at Tuesday’s public hearing on the matter, seemed to help sway the council.
“I would hope this is a case where we would use some common sense,” said Council Member Ed Pace.
The city of Spokane Valley will be allocated three retail licenses for marijuana sales. The locations have yet to be determined.
The issue will come again before the council at its April 1 meeting.
In other news, the council unanimously agreed to the hiring of two new police officers in order to restructure the current department to allow for greater coverage during the hours when there is the greatest number of calls. An initial outlay of $423,213 during the first year is expected, which would drop to $347,000 annually after that.
“I think this is just a great idea,” said Council Member Chuck Hafner. “We don’t have anything if we don’t have a safe city.”