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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Council Roundup: Zoning regulations related to marijuana

Also, Shoreline Master Program Update

The City Council on Monday took a step toward establishing interim zoning regulations related to the legalization of recreational marijuana use, as well as permanent regulations for medical cannabis collective gardens.

A public hearing is scheduled for July 24 before the Planning Commission, and city staff will present options and make recommendations on potential zoning designations.

Medical cannabis collective gardens and recreational marijuana uses are separate but related issues, and there has been some confusion about the relationship between the two since state voters passed Initiative 502 last November.

I-502 legalized the use of marijuana by people 21 and older, and allowed possession of up to one ounce. Retail sales are expected to commence in April 2014. In Bellevue, more than 59 percent of voters approved the initiative. The state Liquor Control Board is in the process of writing rules for the implementation of I-502.

Regarding medical cannabis collective gardens, Bellevue has been operating under interim zoning regulations for the past 15 months. During that time it has held three public hearings and extended the interim regulations three times, for six months each. The city allows collective gardens in four land-use districts, but prohibits the operations of medical cannabis dispensaries.

More information on the regulation of medical cannabis collective gardens and recreational marijuana-related uses, including a state Liquor Control Board list of frequently asked questions about I-502 proposed rules, is available in the council agenda materials.

Progress on Shoreline Master Program Update
Councilmembers agreed on a two-prong strategy for updating the city's Shoreline Master Program (SMP), and, ultimately, forwarding the plan to the state Department of Ecology for final review and approval.

The SMP is required by state law, which provides a regulatory framework for managing shorelines in Washington. Local SMPs must be consistent with Ecology guidelines.

Bellevue's Planning Commission has been working on shoreline issues for more than five years. In May, the commission recommended that the council consider several components of the SMP update that had been completed and posted online for review. Ecology conducted an informal review and sent a letter to the city containing comments on the commission's recommendations.  

On Monday, the council directed city staff to work with Ecology on the content of the commission’s recommendations and possibly narrow the range of issues that need to be resolved. Councilmembers also directed staff to begin work to finalize the remaining elements of the SMP update prior to formally submitting it to Ecology. The council plans to fully review and discuss the SMP update during a study session later this year.

council study session item 

Video of the study session is available on Bellevue TV, along with a video archive of past meetings.

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450 110th Ave. NE
P.O. Box 90012
Bellevue, WA 98009
Contact: Lenka Wright, Chief Communications Officer
Phone: 425-452-4090
E-mail: lwright@bellevuewa.gov

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