Olympus Gardens owner Austin Smith’s reapplication for a marijuana production business on Marrowstone Island is set for a public hearing at 5 p.m., Thursday, March 29 in the Superior Courtroom of the Jefferson County Courthouse.
David Wayne Johnson, project planner with the county Department of Community Development (DCD), said that Jefferson County Hearing Examiner Stephen Casseaux Jr. is already considering testimony submitted at the previous public hearing on June 27, 2017 under the same master land use application. Therefore, attendees of that meeting need not deliver the same testimony they provided at that time.
Johnson said he does welcome public testimony on any pertinent issue that was not raised at that previous public hearing, including the sound study that Smith commissioned, which was conducted by Issaquah-based JGL Acoustics Inc.
Smith was told by the county that he needed to demonstrate that noise from the marijuana production business wouldn’t have a negative impact on the community. After Smith resubmitted his producer application Jan. 3, Johnson told Smith to have a sound study conducted.
“I told him that I’d hold his permit as incomplete until I received that study,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he received the study on Jan. 26. The DCD then began checking the background of the company that conducted the study and opened a window of 14 days for public comment, beginning at the time the sound study was posted on the county website.
Johnson said that DCD had received 77 written comments prior to the close of the comment period on Feb. 21, with at least eight comments coming in after that date.
Johnson said that public comments have continued to be recorded after the 14-day window.
Among the more commonly expressed concerns that Johnson has noted are accusations of the proposed business being sited in an inappropriate location – the industrial park was suggested by commenters as a preferable alternative – as well as preemptive complaints of potential odor and noise impacts.
Commenters voiced concern that the business could contaminate the aquifer and lower their property values, and have claimed that the business does not comply with conditional use criteria.
Johnson noted that, under county code, the hearing examiner is to issue a decision within 10 working days of the public hearing, unless a longer period of time is agreed upon by the hearing examiner and the applicant.
Although Smith was told last fall to wait six months to file for a permit to establish a recreational marijuana-processing business on Marrowstone Island, no such time limit was imposed on his reapplication for a marijuana production business on the same property.
Johnson explained that the marijuana-producing and -processing applications are both conditional-use permits, but only the conditional-use processing application is contingent upon the business qualifying as a cottage industry.
In his initial conclusions Oct. 31, 2017, hearing examiner Casseaux wrote that Smith had “presented no proof” that he had established “a bona fide residence on the parcel for a reasonable period of time” prior to submitting an application for a cottage industry permit.
Casseaux originally had prohibited Smith from reapplying or resubmitting a processor application for a one-year period. He reconsidered that decision Nov. 16 to allow Smith to resubmit his processor application after six months.
In his Nov. 16 reconsideration, Casseaux wrote that the Jefferson County Code provided no guidance on the length of time required for a cottage industry applicant to establish a bona fide residency. He referred to the Revised Code of Washington, which requires all applicants for a marijuana license to have resided in the state for at least six months.
“As I understand it, the hearing examiner wanted to wait six months to give Smith time to establish a bona fide residency on the property,” Johnson said. “That being said, there was nothing in that decision to say that Smith couldn’t reapply for a producer permit right away.”
Smith has declined to comment on his applications.
Go to www.co.jefferson.wa.us/1108/Marrowstone-Cannabis