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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Council Roundup: Regulating recreational marijuana

Also, a new park name, medical cannabis, in-house borrowing

The City Council on Monday directed that an emergency zoning ordinance be prepared to regulate where recreational marijuana retailers, producers and processors will be allowed to locate in Bellevue. The action responds to the passage last year of state Initiative 502, which legalizes marijuana use by people over the age of 21.

Staff recommendations include restricting marijuana production and processing to areas zoned for light industrial uses, and restricting recreational marijuana retail stores generally to where former state liquor stores were located. The state Liquor Control Board, charged with implementing I-502, has allocated four recreational marijuana retail licenses for Bellevue.

Final action on the emergency zoning is scheduled for the Oct. 21 council meeting. If the emergency zoning is adopted, the council must hold a public hearing on the ordinance within 60 days. The interim ordinance would be effective for up to six months, during which time the city's Planning Commission will work on permanent land use regulations for recreational marijuana uses. According to the Liquor Control Board, retail sales of marijuana are expected to begin in spring 2014.

More information is available in the council agenda materials.

Medical cannabis recommendations
In separate council business, but also related to marijuana, the council considered a recommendation from the Planning Commission for land use code amendments to regulate medical cannabis collective gardens. 

In May 2012, the council adopted a six-month, interim zoning ordinance to regulate medical marijuana growing operations. Since then it has twice extended the interim ordinance as the Planning Commission has worked to craft a permanent ordinance.

The recommended ordinance would prohibit collective gardens in residential areas, allowing them in some non-residential areas, and would establish rules to limit impacts of the gardens. The council will consider adopting a final version of the medical cannabis collective gardens land use code amendments at its meeting on Oct. 21.

More information is available in the council agenda materials.

And the winner is …
Community members have voted on a name for Bellevue's newest park, and the winner is: Bridle Trails Corner Park.

During a nine-month long naming process, staff solicited 43 names before the Bridle Trails Community Club Board narrowed the list to 10. An online survey then generated 194 responses and a clear winner emerged. Second and third place went to the names Bridle Trails Neighborhood Park and Bridle Ridge Park.

Bridle Trails Corner Park is located at Northeast 24th Street and 134th Avenue Northeast, in north Bellevue. The two-acre park, which will include a picnic area, playground, wetlands, native plant garden and loop trail, is expected to be completed by next summer. Funds from Bellevue's 2008 Parks and Natural Areas Levy will pay the total project cost of approximately $1.5 million, including construction and land acquisition.

Borrowing in-house to fund key upgrades
Councilmembers approved temporarily borrowing $30 million from the city's Utility Capital Investment Program Fund, moving it to the General CIP Fund to pay for vital transportation projects.

Short-term borrowing through an "interfund loan" is a financial tool the city utilizes occasionally and is regulated by state law. The loan will be used to fund the extension of Northeast Fourth Street, improvements on 120th Avenue Northeast, design work for other street upgrades and neighborhood projects in various locations. The financing allows Bellevue to move ahead with these important transportation projects.

The additional funding is needed now due to factors such as the loss of other sources of revenue, increased costs, recent light rail route decisions and a desire to accelerate construction to achieve savings and honor community commitments. The city will pay back the Utility CIP Fund, with interest, within three years.

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Contact Information

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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