Ferndale decides to keep 6-month moratorium on new pot businesses

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDApril 22, 2014 

FERNDALE - The City Council will keep in place its six-month moratorium on new recreational marijuana businesses in Ferndale.

The council voted unanimously to do so after a public hearing Monday, April 21.

Most people who spoke during the hearing urged the council to keep pot businesses out of Ferndale, saying it wasn't something the city should be known for and that the industry wasn't family friendly.

However, a representative for the owner of property at Brown and Malloy roads wanted the council to end the ban, saying the parcel zoned light industrial was ideal for a pot growing and processing operation - but the city's moratorium was creating a "chilling effect" on such businesses.

"Our company is concerned that there would be a good chance that these applicants will go to other places if this moratorium goes on," said Jim Doran, project manager with Northshore Corp.

The City Council instituted the emergency moratorium March 3 over concerns about the state Liquor Control Board's handling of marijuana licenses.

The city was required to hold a public hearing within 60 days of adopting the moratorium, which it did on Monday.

The liquor board has received applications from four growers/processors and one retail store that want to go into Ferndale. Of that total, two growers/processors are going through the city's permitting process and aren't affected by the ban.

City staff recommended in a report that the council keep the existing moratorium, which ends in September, because "uncertainties related to recreational marijuana licensing still remain."

City leaders were concerned that the liquor board was allowing businesses that have applied for a state license to move from jurisdictions that have instituted permanent bans or temporary moratoriums to ones that didn't.

Ferndale officials said they received "vague and conflicting answers" from the liquor board when they first asked about that ability to amend addresses after Dec. 20, the application deadline.

They feared that a rush of pot businesses might try to shift to Ferndale - before city leaders could decide if that's what they wanted - because Lynden has a moratorium and the County Council was still working on rules for where such businesses can go in the unincorporated parts of the county.

Reach Kie Relyea at kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com or 360-715-2234.

Reach KIE RELYEA at kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2234.

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