Ban Marijuana Businesses in Benton County Washington
This petition made change with 307 supporters!
Ultimately we would like to ban or place a indefinite moratorium until the dust settles for all I-502 businesses for all zones, leaving maybe some industrial zones available but nothing else. This will keep Benton County rural communities safe from the crime that tends to be attracted by these businesses.
What is the Issue?
Benton County allowed Marijuana to be produced in Rural 5 zoning, as well as just about any other type of zoning in the county. Recently they have put an emergency moratorium temporarily banning producers and processors in Rural 5 lands. These are commercial marijuana factories. For example Check out the outdoor producer Fireweed on Johnson road in Prosser.
Benton County Resolution 2015-358
Here are two YouTube videos from Kittitas County that shows how these Commercial I-502 business plan to operate on a large scale. The citizens there have been fighting this for almost a year now. We are seeing the same issues here in Benton County.
Applicants for I-502 in Benton County at various stages:
List of all I-502 Applicants Can be found here
How do I-502 Marijuana Businesses Attract Crime?
This is the primary reason for recommending banning I-502. It is required to have an 8 foot fence around the property sometimes with razor wire, security cameras, and appropriate security lighting. They are not allowed to carry firearms due to federal restrictions. So there is one important security problem, due to the remote nature of these lands, a crime can be committed long before law enforcement can respond to the alarms. All next to rural residential homes. Match that with enough product worth tens of millions of dollars every year and it equals a recipe for disaster.
Isn't Marijuana just another Agricultural Crop?
NO, it is considered industrial, and is not governed under the department of agriculture. The plants are usually grown indoors in large commercial buildings in controlled environments. Most outdoor producers convert to indoor to better control the THC levels and to grow all year round. As with the Carroll Road project in Kittitas, these indoor grows can greatly reduce the possibility of ever using the ground for agricultural activities ever again.
What is Rural 5 zoning?
Rural 5 zoning is designated to enhance and preserve Benton County's rural character, which includes: rural open space, low densities, wildlife habitat, public open space for outdoor recreational activities, rural home sites on which a limited range of agricultural activities may be conducted.
Why isn't banning I-502 business in Rural 5 land enough?
Banning in Rural 5 lands is a start but Benton County needs to be proactive and not reactive to prevent a larger issues with having I-502 Businesses. For example there is a elementary and a new middle school all next to light industrial, rural 20, and interchange zoned lands. Schools have been hit the hardest with I-502, as marijuana products that have never been seen before are starting to appear daily. Also there would be an increased risk of lock downs if a marijuana business was lets say just 1,000 feet away from a school. There are too many holes in I-502 that need to be addressed. We need to let the state know how these businesses impact the safety, and even privacy of our homes.
Am I in Rural 5?
You can call the Benton County Planning Department at 509-786-5612. More importantly, check the property around you. Rural 5 is deceptive, properties with less than 5 acres are zoned rural 5 with the same zoning allowances.
My property is not near an address listed on the marijuana grower or possessor applicant list.
Applicants can amend their application and change the address. The facility on South Clodfelter changed their address on February 18, 2015. Growers are looking for the right piece of property. Many Applicants use fictitious addresses usually 420 and a real road. It's only a minimal cost to have the address changed. They are very sneaky and have found ways to get around more of the limitations of the I-502 law to share the same lots of land with multiple producers and processors. They even use out of country/state funding from organizations that are exploiting Washington's laws.
I am not worried, my property has protective covenants.
State and Local authorities do not enforce your covenants. You do, on your dollar. Marijuana growers have $, they have to, few banks will loan money for these properties and facilities, they are paid for in cash. Your covenants don't hinder them, because you have to make them stop.
- Hire a lawyer
- Take them to court
- Try and win
- If you do, trust that the system will enforce the judges ruling.
This takes lots of time and money.
What are we asking to be done?
After much discussion, we feel that as I-502 business currently disregard local civil laws or are well funded in getting around anything we try and put in place, the most effective measures would be an outright Ban or an indefinite Moratorium. Lets not let Benton County become the beta testers of I-502. Once the dust settles, and I-502 business have a better track record for working with the local communities then we can reconsider a more complex zoning and planning. For now banning all I-502 operations in Benton County would be simple and we can get more people behind it. Lets do this before they take this right away from us.
How did this happen?
Benton county voters voted NO on the marijuana initiative. Our vote gave us the false sense of security that the elected Commissioners would take conservative action in implementing marijuana growers, producers, and retailers into our counties landscape. We felt since we voted no, their decisions would reflect our vote, yet Benton County has been ranked as one of the more facilitative counties in our state.
Citizens of our county like all others were busy with our daily activities and we relied upon our elected official to act on our best interest. But, they still have time.....that is why I am asking the Benton County Commissioners, and I hope you do also, Let's Ban I-502 Commercial Marijuana Businesses from growing in Benton County.
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