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King County Council : Call for Responsible Zoning - No Marijuana Production and Processing in Redmond Ridge

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Dear King County Council,

First off, thank you for hearing us patiently at the public hearing on 2nd December. We know you understood the overwhelming community opposition to the proposed ordinance 2013-0472 which permits production and processing of marijuana in Redmond Ridge.

We the undersigned oppose any zoning ordinance that would place a marihuana processing facility in the Redmond Ridge/Redmond Ridge East communities.  We understand that people hold widely different views on the issue of the legality and morality of marihuana and we respect those differences.  Although our views on the issue of legality and morality of marihuana may differ, we all agree that zoning ordinances affecting the placement of processing facilities should be responsible.  We understand that this is a new and challenging issue in the area of zoning ordinances and that there is little guidance.  That is all the more reason for responsible zoning.  We do not want the Redmond Ridge/Redmond Ridge East neighborhoods to become a national cautionary tale of poor zoning decisions.

Many residents living within City Limits have a difficult time understanding the Master Planned Community that is Redmond Ridge.  They think "Unincorporated King County" as meaning horse pastures, farmland, and large acreages.  If you asked them to support large-scale marijuana growing and distribution center within the city limits they would tell you that was a preposterous, irresponsible idea, and tell you to find a place with less impact on families, schools, children and property values.  They would probably tell you that the zoning laws would exempt most areas of the city even in pockets where the setbacks were minimally sufficient, the idea of big pot operations set within high density population is unsettling.  Redmond Ridge is in the same category. Someone unfamiliar with Redmond Ridge's high density population, school, retail areas, parks, trails, and surprising number of homes in a small area might simply look at the Google or Bing map image of the property location requesting a growing operation and believe that the presence of pine trees and lack of immediately adjacent homes means Redmond Ridge Business Park sits in a rural setting and meets the intention of the setback zoning to protect kids.  They would be mistaken.  
 
Redmond Ridge has experienced explosive growth and development, along with the neighboring developments of Trilogy and Redmond Ridge East. The four parcels in the Redmond Ridge Business Park, aren't as isolated within these high density areas as would be prudent when placing a large marijuana growing facility. When crafting new legislation in a new area with no precedence anywhere in the country, careful consideration should be given to demographics, impact on families and children, probable nuisance odors, probable increased crime, known environmental impacts, and most importantly input from the neighbors who would likely lose precious home value dollars that have just recently began to recover after the recession.  The potential for crime is especially unsettling when considering the residents of these neighborhoods have already testified regarding difficulty they have experienced in getting timely sheriff response to crimes in their neighborhoods.  

Information has been made available to the council that these parcels are less than the required 1000 foot buffer from a public park as required by Washington State law.

Redmond Ridge has experienced explosive growth and development, along with the neighboring developments of Trilogy and Redmond Ridge East.  The four parcels in the Redmond Ridge Business Park, aren't as isolated within these high density areas as would be prudent when placing a large marijuana growing facility.   When crafting new legislation in a new area with no precedence anywhere in the country, careful consideration should be given to demographics, impact on families and children, probable nuisance odors, probable increased crime, known inadequate sheriff services, known environmental impacts, and most importantly input from the neighbors who would likely lose precious home value dollars that have just recently began to recover after the recession.  Please don't prioritize minimum setback measurement and ignore all the rest while contemplating the zoning issue.  

Marijuana growing and distribution would be much less impactful to families, children, and property values in a rural area of King County or an industrial area of King County.

Redmond Ridge is neither a rural nor an industrial area.  The Lake Washington School District has had a very difficult time with the overcrowding of the neighborhood school, Rosa Parks.  The Lake Washington School Board had to redraw boundaries to send Redmond Ridge East kids to another school and still overcrowding continues. King County printed numbers and data on the high density population of this area when justifying the new overpass on Novelty Hill Road. The Department of Transportation has recently made changes to improve traffic flow due to the high volume of traffic coming through our area.  The King County Library System has pioneered a new concept in library services by creating the Library Express at Redmond Ridge.  They did this due to the high demand for library services coming from this area. King County Metro Bus Service has increased routes and service times recently due to the large population in Redmond Ridge.

Redmond Ridge is very much like a city, with a high concentration of children, thousands of homes, a school, daycares, homeschools, home daycares, after school programs and many neighborhood parks and trails where children frequently gather.   You can comply with state law that requires new zoning regulations by placing large scale growing and distribution facilities of marijuana in rural or industrial areas outside of Redmond Ridge/Redmond Ridge East. The Redmond Ridge Residential Owner's Association passed a resolution November 26, 2013 stating that they do NOT SUPPORT the proposed zoning allowing up to 30,000 square feet per parcel of marijuana growing and processing in the Redmond Ridge ROA Business Park. There are more suitable areas all over King County. The Redmond Ridge East Home Owners Association is also opposed to this ordinance. We understand the Lake Washington School District, Pediatric Associates and other businesses / organizations are also opposed to allowing marijuana production and processing at the proposed location in Redmond Ridge.

Here are some numbers related to Redmond Ridge:

1. Redmond Ridge has 1300 homes with about 1600 planned for Redmond Ridge East, with 2 apartment complexes. In addition, a seniors’ community Trilogy is right next door and also within walking distance of this facility. According to one source, population density of this area is 530 people per sq mile. This plant will put our weaker populations (Children and seniors) at much higher risk.

2. Rosa Parks had over 800 kids enrolled last year.  The school total capacity is 600 kids. In addition there are 2 preschools in the neighborhood that are running at full capacity.  This is a neighborhood that is ten to twelve years old and we have many kids attending middle school and high school above and beyond the children that are at Rosa Parks and the daycares.

3. New businesses are coming to the neighborhood because the neighborhood is big enough to create an attractive market.  We do not want businesses that are good for our communities to leave because they do not want their business located next to a marihuana processing facility.

4. In the last 2 months or so, these neighborhoods have seen increased crime and delayed response time due to the large area a limited number of deputies must service. The county sheriff can speak to this issue and should be contacted for input. Putting this plant in these neighborhoods will be a step in the wrong direction and will increase crime.  As Senator Hill testified at the hearing, this is a valuable product that is taxed at 75% of its value.  There are individuals that would love to get their hands on this product tax free and profit.  The risk of increased crime in these communities due to these individuals cannot be ignored.

5.  There has been no environmental study done to consider the effects on the environment due to industrial waste in neighborhoods that are not zoned for industrial facilities and not equipped to handle them.  There has been no study to consider the effects on our health from the noxious fumes that a processing plant would produce.  Do not place the environment and health of these communities at risk.

 Please think of all the detrimental effects this decision will have on our vibrant neighborhood and stop any marijuana plants getting established in this neighborhood.  We are sure that while making a decision you will NOT be guided by mere technicalities but rather by doing what is right for this vibrant local community. We trust that you will be driven by the spirit of the law vs. the letter of the law. We aresure council can find alternative locations such as light industrial areas / rural areas in the county, which are appropriate for such business.  This will ensure that King County Council lives up to its mission - Earning public trust, enhancing quality of life, protecting public health and safety

In conclusion, we are asking you to Vote NO on Marijuana ordinance 2013-0472 or alternatively AMEND Section 8 and Section 9 of this ordinance to REMOVE Urban Reserve Zones and REMOVE specific references to Redmond Ridge.

 

Thank you in advance for your support.



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