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News Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Council Roundup: Interim zoning for medical pot gardens

Also, outreach for city budget process planned
 
The City Council Monday adopted interim zoning regulations for medical marijuana "collective gardens" to ensure that such gardens, now allowed by state law, don't harm residential neighborhoods.

The zoning ordinance -- which only allows the gardens in areas zoned light industrial, general commercial and medical institution and prohibits them within 1,000 feet of schools and churches -- gives the city six months to gather public input and consider whether any city codes need to be changed.

The ordinance calls for a public hearing regarding the zoning regulations by July 2. Staff will now develop permanent regulations for the council's approval.

State law has allowed medical marijuana "collective gardens" for qualifying patients since last year. The drug has been found to alleviate pain for people undergoing cancer treatment. However, federal law still prohibits any cultivation or distribution of pot, and statewide regulations regarding the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana are still unclear.

Bellevue's interim zoning ordinance states that it is intended to prevent "new uses that are incompatible with nearby existing land uses and lead to erosion of community character and harmony."

Several council members expressed support for the interim zoning regulations as a way to keep marijuana collective gardens from emerging in residential neighborhoods before adequate permanent municipal rules are in place.

Feedback: Lori Riordan, City Attorney, 425-452-7220 or lriordan@bellevuewa.gov

Outreach on 2013-2014 budget starting
The council approved outreach planned for the development of the 2013-2014 budget that includes public hearings in May, July and November, two "open house style" forums and presentations to community organizations upon request.

The first hearing will be Monday, May 14, during the council's extended study session, around 8 p.m. Finance Director Jan Hawn noted that the hearings follow the biennial budget survey done earlier this year as well as the annual performance survey.

The open house forums, to educate residents and gather input, are being scheduled in response to a request from the council. One will be at Crossroads and the second will be at City Hall, both to be done by June 15.

For the second time the city will use an "outcomes" approach to assemble the budget, with city services and programs evaluated based on community priorities, or outcomes, rather than city departments.

The seven outcomes are safe community; improved mobility; healthy and sustainable environment; innovative, vibrant and caring community; quality neighborhoods; economic growth and competitiveness; and responsive government.

Feedback: Toni Rezab, Budget Manager, 425-452-7863 or trezab@bellevuewa.gov

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