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Another company has its eyes on K2 as pot applications roll in
By NATALIE MARTIN
A second company has applied to grow marijuana at the K2 building, and several islanders have tossed their hats in the ring to start smaller marijuana businesses on Vashon.
According to information released last week by the state Liquor Control Board (LCB), three off-island companies have now submitted applications to start marijuana growing operations on Vashon — two of them at the K2 building — and three island groups or islanders have applied to grow legal pot on the island as well.
As of Dec. 17, no one had applied to open a marijuana retail store on Vashon. The application window closed on Dec. 19, and final information has yet to be released by the LCB.
Bakkhos Holding, a new company with several investors, has applied with the state for licenses to both grow and process marijuana at the K2 building.
Last month another company, Def Clown West, also applied to have a grow operation at K2. Def Clown West’s agent, a Redmond man, declined to comment on the company or its plans.
Michael Rosen, a Mercer Island attorney who is an official with Bakkhos Holding, referred questions to the company’s spokesman, Scott Bales, a San Francisco real estate broker, investor and developer.
Bales said Bakkhos Holding — a group of Washington investors with diverse backgrounds — is currently looking at several properties, including the K2 building, to locate its marijuana operation. They have been in contact with the building’s realtor, he said, but have no agreement in place.
“The property itself would be ideal for our use,” he said. “I couldn’t comment on the status of the deal.”
Bales said he believed several new marijuana companies are interested in locating their operations at the 180,000-square-foot K2 building, but he didn’t know how many would ultimately apply.
“We’re going to be a business in the state of Washington, but we can’t put all our eggs in the K2 basket,” he said.
Representatives with Cushman & Wakefield, the commercial real estate broker selling the building, have not returned phone calls from The Beachcomber.
Bakkhos Holding’s application to locate a 10,000- to 30,000-square-foot growing operation as well as a processing — or packaging and drying — operation at the K2 building was prepared by high-profile Seattle attorney Hilary Bricken, who is also the company’s registered agent.
Bricken is the lead attorney with Canna Law Group, which advises and represents marijuana entrepreneurs and has offices in Seattle, Vancouver and Spokane. She also sits on the board of directors of the National Cannabis Industry Association. She did not return an inquiry from The Beachcomber.
Bales declined to give details about Bakkhos’ plans for the K2 site, but called the group a green company and said if it moves forward at K2, he expects representatives will be in close communication with the community.
Bales said he has learned that some islanders have concerns about marijuana at K2 and he believes the company could allay some of those concerns.
“We’ve got a lot of things that differentiate us from the rest of the industry, not the least of which is our business experience,” he said. “We are very serious about having the community involved in the discussion. We’re experienced with that.”
Meanwhile, it seems as though islanders may have some say in whether a marijuana operation is allowed at K2.
According to Jarrod Lewis, the assistant director of permitting at King County’s Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (DPER), locating a marijuana production business at the K2 building would likely require an amendment to Vashon’s town plan.
Although the K2 building is zoned as community business, and marijuana growth and production will be allowed in that type of zone, the building is also part of a special district that Vashon’s Town Committee created in 1996. That special district has several permitted uses outlined in Vashon’s town plan — which is incorporated into the King County Comprehensive Plan — but marijuana growing and processing would not be considered permitted, Lewis said.
“If my position is correct, it would have to be amended to allow that use,” he said.
The change would require amending the county’s comprehensive plan, something Scott Logel, a senior management analyst at DPER, said is a long process that involves public input.
The King County Council, Logel said, considers minor amendments to the plan annually and major amendments only every four years. Amendments can be requested by property owners or elected officials.
Logel didn’t know which type of amendment would apply at K2, but said even a minor amendment requires an analysis by King County that includes public feedback opportunities and can take up to a year and half to complete.
“That’s a pretty lengthy process, but it’s possible,” he said.
Vashon’s Town Plan Committee, which last updated the town plan in 2011, wouldn’t have to be involved in the process, he said, but could make a recommendation if it wished.
The public will also have more input in smaller pot operations under new county regulations. Earlier this month, the King County Council approved a requirement that marijuana businesses 2,000 square feet or larger obtain a conditional use permit (CUP). As part of the CUP process, Lewis said, the county can place conditions on an applicant’s use of a site, and a public comment process is required before the permit is issued.
A previous proposal before the council would have required that only large operations — those 10,000 square feet or larger — go through the CUP process. Two councilmembers, including Joe McDermott, Vashon’s representative, voted against the proposal to include the smaller operations, according to the Seattle P-I, but it passed with seven votes.
Some Vashon companies, if granted permits by the state, could be required to go through the county’s CUP process, including Buds of Vashon, which recently applied to grow and process marijuana on Maury Island. Registered to islander Steve Van Dyke, Buds of Vashon applied for a tier 2 production permit — meaning the operation would be 2,000 to 10,000 square feet — as well as a permit to process their product.
Islander Scott Durkee, a partner in the group, said Buds of Vashon is an effort by a few islanders with diverse backgrounds who are interested in trying their hand in the new marijuana market. All have college degrees, he noted, and one partner has a PhD.
“We’re not druggies. We’re entrepreneurs, we’re good citizens and well-educated,” he said.
Durkee, an avid gardener who grows most of his own food, says he was approached by Van Dyke to get involved in the growing side of the business.
Buds of Vashon applied for permits at Durkee’s Maury Island home, but Durkee said the group likely won’t be able to have the operation there because his property is less than 1,000 feet from the Maury Island Marine Park. The location can be changed in the future, so the address is a placeholder as they look at their options, he said.
“Though we don’t have a plan, we felt like if we didn’t get a permit, we wouldn’t have an option to participate in this new and exciting endeavor,” he said. “The time to apply was now.”
Durkee, who also works at an island winery, said that while many are looking to cash in on marijuana’s legalization, he is personally more interested in growing a new type of crop and being a part of a pioneering new business.
“I don’t see it as a big money-making thing,” he said. “It will be a lot of work, but I think it will be very interesting. To be involved in something that is really historic is appealing to me.”
Another islander has applied to grow and process marijuana at his home. James Clark, who set up the company Sunpower Farm, also applied to have a tier 2 growing operation and to process marijuana at his property on 137th Avenue on the south end.
Clark, reached by The Beachcomber, declined to comment on his plans, saying it was premature to discuss the potential business.
Finally, an island woman, Michele Maurer, has applied to have a small marijuana grow of 2,000 square feet or less at her home on Burma Road. In an email to the The Beachcomber, Maurer said she was just in the research phase and had arranged to put her application on hold.
Last month, a Burien man applied for a license to grow marijuana on Vashon. Richard Doane, who also owns Burien Auto Repair, applied to produce marijuana on a property on the 25900 block of Wax Orchard Road at a property owned by his family.