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Marijuana retail to be located in city’s business-industrial zone

Bainbridge’s burgeoning pot industry just got more regulated.

The Bainbridge Island City Council directed staff Monday to revise the recently approved marijuana ordinance.

In it, the council asked that retail be moved from Rolling Bay and limited to the business industrial zone along with growing and processing.

“It seems to me that having a retail outlet embedded deep within our neighborhoods didn’t make sense,” said Councilman Steve Bonkowski on the potential for increased traffic.

“I think your proposal to restrict to industrial areas, which by design are all adjacent for the most part to Highway 305, I think they have the traffic control because of their location.”

City staff will revise the ordinance the council approved in May within the next month and in doing so, remove its Nov. 12 expiration date.

Retail businesses, the council agreed, should be moved from the three previously-approved neighborhood service centers, Lynwood Center, Rolling Bay and Island Center, to the Day Road business-industrial zone.

Processing and growing will remain limited to the same zone, the Day Road business-industrial district.

In addition, the ordinance’s energy requirements should be shifted, the council said.

Currently the ordinance requires growing businesses to reduce fossil-fuel based electricity by pulling at least 50 percent of its energy consumption from island-generated renewable energy.

The redraft will not require growers’ to have a percentage of its energy come from island-generated resources or be renewable.

The city may however, request documentation or monitoring reports on growers’ energy consumption.

This change came after Councilwoman Anne Blair noted she was hesitant to alter the energy consumption standards since law enforcement has reportedly used energy records to identify illegal grows.

Councilman Val Tollefson argued that this simply meant that grows use more power than a residence, but does not show how it compares to industrial businesses.

“We’re kind of flying by the seat of our pants as to what the consumption is relative to other industrial uses,” Tollefson said.

“I just don’t think we ought to fly by the seat of our pants for what are probably punitive reasons.”

The decision may be good for the long line of Rolling Bay residents who attended Monday’s council meeting in opposition of a retail store in their neighborhood.

But it’s not looking so positive for potential pot businesses.

Tim Wilkins of Bainbridge Island Taxi & Tours was one of a minority who spoke up at the meeting to tell the council that putting all functions of marijuana business in the industrial zone would effectively push them off Bainbridge.

There are just four buildings that sit outside of the 1,000-foot buffer in the Day Road industrial zone, Wilkins said.

For three of those buildings, the property owners are not looking to lease or sell. The fourth building is up for sale.

“They may be willing to do that,” Wilkins said.

“But how would you have a retail store, six growers sharing one building, one 9,000-foot building? The way the ordinance reads now, even though 70 percent of islanders supported I-502, you cannot grow marijuana on Bainbridge Island.”

Under a sublease with Bainbridge Island Taxi, Evergreen pot dispensary would have been located off of Valley Road in the Rolling Bay neighborhood service area.

The taxi service leases a 1,600-square-foot space from Rolling Bay Jiffy Mart owner, Soon Hong, who last month voiced strong opposition against the sublease which he said he did not permit.

Evergreen ranked first in the state lottery for business licenses that would have granted it Bainbridge Island’s single pot shop.

With the change, Evergreen will now have to vie for the limited space in Day Road’s industrial zone.

Quince Farm which applied for a growing license on Miller Road will also compete for the space.

Despite the restrictive nature of the regulations, Wilkins stands on the other side of a wall.

As one resident pointed out, 555 Rolling Bay residents signed a petition against having marijuana retail in the neighborhood.

Those opposed said it would change the family-friendly outlook of the area and be a negative influence on teens and children in the neighborhood.

Residents who live in R-0.4 zoned neighborhoods, which was previously considered for growing operations, had similar views.

The council voted 6-0 to approve the direction. Councilwoman Sarah Blossom abstained.

City staff will return later this month with a revised draft ordinance for an initial reading.

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