Residents rally to keep marijuana dispensary out of Old Town

August 7, 2013

By Peter Clark

NEW — 12:56 p.m. Aug. 7, 2013

A medical marijuana dispensary looks to open in Old Town and residents are raising their voices in protest.

The Peaceful Choice, a medical marijuana collective garden, submitted an application that was completed on July 10 to open within the Issaquah Court Condominiums, a mixed use building housing both residential and commercial units.

Robin Brewer, President of the Issaquah Court Condominiums in the 100 block of 1st Place Northwest, is very concerned by an application making its way through the city that would allow for the dispensary to open its door on the building’s ground floor.

“When the City of Issaquah set up the zoning for this, they did not take into account that the Library, train museum and senior center are all less than 1,000 feet from this proposed location and which fit the city’s own definition of a community center,” Brewer said.

Ordinance No. 2633 passed by the city in December 2011 states, “no collective garden shall be permitted within 1,000 fee of any community center or school.”

According to the municipal code, the city defines a community center as follows:

“A facility owned and operated by a public agency or nonprofit corporation; provided, that the principal use of the facility is for public assistance, recreation, community improvement, or public assembly.”

Brewer feels that the library and the senior center are the very definition of a community center.

“For the sale of recreational marijuana, the library is buffered out,” she said. “It should be a community center and it should be buffered out for medical marijuana as well.”

Additionally, she had concerns about the number of children’s activities that take place in the surrounding neighborhood. The Peaceful Choice would be located literally across the street from Young Life, an activity center for middle and high schoolers. A block away from Issaquah Court Condominiums sits the Village Theater KIDSTAGE, which hosts an arts enrichment preschool.

Within the proposed building is Studio B photography. Owner Brooke Clark voiced her worries about the security implications for her business. She perceived a heightened burglary threat from the possibility of a marijuana dispensary.

“We don’t want it,” she said. “Why would you want to change the element of what you do in your neighborhood?”

From professional standpoint, Brewer additionally felt that housing a medical marijuana facility would hurt the land value and make it more difficult to find tenants for the condos.

“We’ve already been told that families with children will not be re-upping their leases,” she said. “Our property values will go down because of it.”

Within the city, the Development Services Department is still clarifying the application and zoning procedures for medical, and looming recreational, marijuana facilities.

“The medical marijuana laws are really vague,” Development Services Associate Planner Jason Rogers said. “We have to have this conversation.”

Responding to Brewer’s concerns about adjacent community locations, he said that the department still needed to decide upon specific planning definitions.

“We’ve never made a formal determination of whether the library or the senior center fit the definition of a community center,” he said, adding that the same is true for the facilities. “We don’t actually have a specific definition of library or senior center. It does get very tricky.”

He explained that within the applied zone, The Peaceful Choice could operate; though the city had a responsibility to continually assess what possible risk such a business could pose to a surrounding area.

Rogers cautioned that the issue of mixed use buildings will crop up again as the Central Issaquah Plan moves to create greater density.

“All of our planning efforts are moved to turning central Issaquah into mixed use buildings,” he said. “It’s going to be a bigger issue.”

The Peaceful Choice’s application has 60 days from the acceptance date of July 20 to be approved by the administration, a decision made by the Development Services Director. Though the official public comment ends on Aug. 8, Rogers encouraged residents to reach out with their opinions.

“Just because the public comment closes doesn’t mean we won’t take additional comments,” he said. “If someone want to make a comment next Friday on this then they could and absolutely should.”

Reach him at jasonr@issaquahwa.gov.

Meanwhile, Brewer has launched an online petition to garner public support to deny The Peaceful Choice’s application. Find it here.

“I don’t want to be living with it,” Brewer said. “It shouldn’t be included in a mixed use building.”

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Comments

9 Responses to “Residents rally to keep marijuana dispensary out of Old Town”

  1. Alexandra Chauran on August 7th, 2013 1:59 pm

    I am an Issaquah resident and mother to two small children. I just emailed Mr. Rogers in SUPPORT of The Peaceful Choice. Thank you for reporting on this issue and providing his email address for the opportunity to make public comment.

  2. George on August 7th, 2013 4:51 pm

    Give me a break. It’s like these people live in a fantasy world where bad is good and good is bad. Exactly, alcohol is bad, yet everyone is ok with it so it’s good, and cannabis is good, yet everyone is not ok with it because of under education, so it’s bad. no one has ever died from using it (except being killed by cops because of laws). So, if you take the government element out of cannabis use, cannabis has never hurt a single sole….no one has ever died from “cannabis poisoning” or killed people while driving under the influence of cannabis or killed other people. People need to get educated, so that they can make educated decisions and not sound like idiots when opening their mouth (or using their fingers when typing on the computer)..

  3. Sarah on August 7th, 2013 5:01 pm

    I agree that The Peaceful Choice would make a nice addition to Issaquah, however, I do not believe that it is appropriate to open on the bottom floor of a residential building. I equate it to having a liquor store or bar open directly under your condo. I have nothing against liquor stores & bars, I just wouldn’t want it beneath my house, especially if I purchased the property when the space was a doctors office. I feel it would be more appropriate for them to select a location in a commercial plaza/building that is not zoned for residential use.
    I wish The Peaceful Choice the best of luck in opening an Issaquah location.

  4. Orlie on August 7th, 2013 5:46 pm

    I agree that people should know the facts before they open their mouths.

    Here are some facts.

    From Issaquah Municipal Code 18.07.515 Collective gardens, paragraph D. Separation Requirements:

    5. No collective garden shall be permitted within five hundred (500) feet of any park, preschool, or day care.

    Here is a park within 500 feet of the proposed site:
    http://www.ci.issaquah.wa.us/Facilities/Facility/Details/Depot-Park-23

    Here is a preschool within 500 feet of the proposed site: http://www.villagetheatre.org/issaquah/Arts-Adventures.php

    This seems pretty straight-forward that if the license is approved, the city will be ignoring its own regulations.

  5. Skip Long on August 7th, 2013 6:59 pm

    I understand the value of Medical Marijuana and feel it is probably very valuable to those who need it. I just feel that placing it under someones home is wrong. THis is a very family friendly area and caters to many children for speech lesson’s,music lessons, etc. There is already a Medical Marijuana dispensary on Gilman Blvd. Its far away from schools, libraries etc. There are also many MMJ dispensaries that will deliver to your home. This is just simply horrible placement.

  6. Smoley on August 7th, 2013 10:47 pm

    >>Rogers cautioned that the issue of mixed use buildings will crop up again as the Central Issaquah Plan moves to create greater density.

    “All of our planning efforts are moved to turning central Issaquah into mixed use buildings,” he said. “It’s going to be a bigger issue.”<<

    Sure it's going to be a bigger issue and it's things like this that show us that the City Council hasn't fully thought through all the details before they jump into bed with developers. Instead, it's a mindset of BUILD! BUILD! BUILD! at any cost.

    "Oh, you didn't want to walk past a marijuana dispensary or head shop with your children in hand to get to your front door? Well we never thought that would bother anyone so we let them in along with a 24 hr. adult bookstore and a tattoo parlor on the corner. We told you it was 'mixed use' so why the confusion?"

    C'mon City Council. Work for your constituents instead of against them. Sort this out and realize that there are some holes to address in your plans for our town.

  7. bryan weinstein on August 9th, 2013 8:12 am

    there will be more situations like these as our town continues to explore what “mixed-use” really means. our city council has latched onto this as a way to increase density in Issaquah as higher density brings more money and services (like transit which everybody on the council wants). imagine businesses that we can’t even think of today that will want to be in the same building as families with children. In Bellevue it’s OK to have a Neiman Marcus and cupcake shop in a mixed use high-rise – in Issaquah we get marijuana collectives, yoga studios and yogurt shops. same difference, more or less. it comes down to degrees of what you want to tolerate and how much tolerance the city council has for the revenues that will be generated compared to the noise citizens will make. my money is on the revenue.

  8. Orlie on August 9th, 2013 12:05 pm

    If your money is on the revenue, consider the businesses that might leave because of this. Village Theatre is very upset about this. They bring in a massive amount of business. Other places that have a lot of activities for children like Museo Art Academy and Kaleidoscope School of Music also bring in a lot of business. I cannot believe that a collective garden would bring in more business than these places. Village Theatre leaving would be a massive blow to downtown Issaquah.

  9. Ron on August 13th, 2013 12:25 am

    There would be plenty of benefits. That part of town needs more interesting commercial tenants. Besides the residents, the only people frequenting that block are going to what could be considered the dirtiest bar within 15 miles or the gas station. Right next to community assets is the perfect place. The local police keep a creepily keen eye on the drinking establishments and side roads so now they have something closer to the station to worry about. This is a win win unless you think some kid selling pot at the skate park is the preferred alternative.

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