Editor's Note: The location of tonight's meeting has been changed to Chautauqua Elementary School.
By NATALIE MARTIN
Tonight county representatives will take comments on a proposed change to the Vashon Town Plan that would allow Bakkhos Holding to move forward in its effort to grow marijuana and manufacture edible marijuana products at the K2 building.
King County announced it was considering the change on Feb. 7, less than three weeks after Bakkhos Holding announced its plans to purchase the K2 property.
Two proposed amendments to the Vashon Town Plan stem from a conflict between a marijuana ordinance passed by the King County Council last year and the town plan, which is folded into the King County Comprehensive Plan.
The ordinance the council passed in December allows legal marijuana businesses to set up shop in parts of unincorporated King County zoned as Community Business and Industrial. King County officials later realized, however, that a special business district that Vashon’s Town Plan Committee created in 1996 prevents marijuana business in much of the island’s core. The business district, which creates a zoning overlay in parts of Vashon town, Center and at the K2 building, has many permitted uses outlined by the creators of the 1996 town plan, but marijuana growing and processing are not included.
The town plan amendment, which Rep. Joe McDermott said already has wide support on the council, would allow marijuana growing, processing and retail at properties zoned Community Business, and growing and processing at those zoned Industrial.
Dan Anglin, a spokesman for Bakkhos Holding, said in an interview and at a public meeting he held on Vashon that the county’s proposal came after he met with county officials to discuss the zoning conflict.
After the county’s Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (DPER) informed Bakkhos of the zoning conflict on Jan. 23, he said, he met with county officials, including Lauren Smith, a land use policy advisor with the King County executive’s office. He also spoke over the phone with Joe McDermott, Vashon’s representative on the King County Council.
At that time, Anglin said, it was too late for a member of the public to submit an amendment to the county’s comprehensive plan. There was time, however, for the county itself to propose the amendment and transmit it to the council by the deadline of March 3.
“All around, for us and them, the timing is fortuitous,” he said.
The county announced the proposal on Feb. 7, giving notice of a public meeting for tonight, Feb. 19, and asking that islander submit any written comments by Feb. 26.
Smith could not be reached for comment, but Lisa Verner, DPER’s legislative coordinator, confirmed that Anglin did meet with county officials.
Verner said that while the proposal was announced after the county spoke with Anglin, officials had already been considering the amendment. She said the amendment would carry out the county council’s intent when it passed the marijuana ordinance, which it believed at the time would cover all of unincorporated King County.
“Even if (Anglin) weren’t around, we would still need to do this,” she said.
“From our perspective, it’s sort of a cleanup,” she added.
Meanwhile, it appears the focus on the town plan has called other businesses within the boundaries of the town plan into question.
Anglin said he believes more than a dozen businesses in Vashon town and at center do not comply with the uses listed in the town plan. And on Monday, Ishan Dillon with the Seattle Distilling Company, located next door to the K2 building, said DPER had informed him that his business does not comply with the town plan. Several other businesses were in the same predicament, he said.
“The town plan has kind of been falling through the cracks over the years, and it hasn’t been enforced,” he said.
A DPER representative could not be reached before press deadline because of the Presidents’ Day holiday.
Dillon said so far the county hasn’t given him any indication of how it will address the issue. He said that shutting down his operation or moving locations would be devastating to his small business.
“They definitely had a tone of we’ll get this figured out, we don’t want to impact any island businesses,” he said. “Until it’s figured out, we’re obviously not sleeping well."
King County will hold a meeting on the proposed town plan amendment at 7 p.m. tonight, Feb. 19, Chautauqua Elementary School.