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Council passes town plan amendment to allow marijuana business in town

By NATALIE MARTIN

Months after a controversial Vashon Town Plan amendment to allow marijuana business in town was first proposed, the King County Council passed the amendment last week.

The amendment to the town plan, which is folded into King County’s comprehensive plan, allows marijuana business in Vashon town and at Center in buildings zoned Community Business and Industrial. Marijuana business was previously banned by the town plan, which did not include it on a list of approved uses written in 1996. However, officials who crafted King County’s marijuana zoning ordinances last year said allowing pot business in Vashon town would align the island with the rest of unincorporated King County, where marijuana business is allowed in designated zones.

The amendment was first proposed in February, just as a marijuana edibles company was trying to purchase the K2 building. Since then, the company has terminated its contract to purchase the building, citing a long wait time to obtain building permits from King County. Also since then, another company has made moves to put a retail marijuana store in the former Vashon Family Practice building. However, the company has apparently not moved forward since being selected in the state’s lottery for retail marijuana licenses. Sjardo Steneker, who owns the building, said in an email Friday that he still doesn’t have a purchase and sale agreement and has not heard from the potential buyer.

Included in the town plan amendment, which was passed unanimously by the council on Monday, June 23, was a clause that also allows wineries, breweries and distilleries within the boundaries of the plan. Joe McDermott, Vashon’s representative on the council, added the amendment in part so that the Seattle Distilling Company could obtain the proper permits to stay at Center. When the county proposed adding marijuana business to the town plan, it came to light that the distillery was also not technically allowed under the plan.

The owners of the distillery are now moving forward with King County to obtain a change of use permit, a permit they say they could have obtained under another category in 2012 but were mistakenly told by King County they didn’t need. Tami Brockway Joyce, one of the owners, said she doesn’t expect to have any trouble getting the permit now. She and the other owners, who at one point worried they may have to move or shut down, are relieved that the amendment passed, she said.

“Now that can go through, and we’ll get it all sorted out,” Brockway Joyce said. “It’s such a relief.”

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