A second recreational marijuana shop will be allowed in Mountlake Terrace after the City Council passed an amended ordinance allowing it in a 4-2 vote. Councilmembers Laura Sonmore and Bryan Wahl cast the dissenting votes and Mayor Jerry Smith was absent.
The ordinance also prohibits collective gardens from being grown in residential areas in the city limits.
The amended ordinance was passed after it first failed 3-3. Then, the un-amended ordinance, which would only allow one store in the city, failed 5-1. The council motioned to reconsider the amended ordinance, which is when it passed. Councilmember Seaun Richards changed his vote from no to yes the second time around. Councilmembers Wahl and Sonmore voted no both times.
The issue first came up earlier this month, following a chance in the state law last year that would allow a second store to open if the city permitted it. Owners of a second store has been granted a cannabis license by the state and gotten a lease with a commercial property located at the intersection of 64th Avenue West and 220th Street Southwest. The only thing they needed to open was a business license from the city, and former city code had prohibited that.
The city’s planning commission recommended holding off on allowing a second store to open, so that they could further study the impacts of the city’s first marijuana store on tax revenue and crime rates. The first store, Fweedom Cannabis, just opened at the end of February.
The City Council had an opportunity to vote on the ordinance during the last business meeting, but they opted to table the vote because two councilmembers were absent.
All of the voting happened after the council spent approximately 45 minutes in executive session to discuss the ordinance with the city attorney. Before that, four members of the public voiced their opinions on the ordinance.
Tad Seaton, of Mukilteo, is one of the co-owners of the proposed second marijuana shop.
“Two stores creates additional revenue for the city,” Seaton said. “The city may lose its opportunity to have a second store if it is not allowed today.”
Seaton also addressed concerns about smell by other tenants in the building where his new shop would be located.
“All of our products are sealed,” Seaton said. “If smell is ever an issue, we would implement an air filtration system.”
The building’s manager, Lynn Radtkey said keeping the space vacant has had a negative impact on the building–and she has taken extra precautions with this particular tenant.
“We had an attorney put together a lease for this particular tenant, which we don’t do for our other tenants,” she said. “We wanted to make sure we felt good about what we were doing and what the tenant will bring to the center.”
She also said the last tenant that was there was a dentist office, so concerns about parking in that space are not valid. A typical shopping trip to a marijuana store takes about 10-15 minutes, where as a visit to a dentist could take an hour or two.
Seaton brought Seattle-based attorney Ryan Espegard to speak on behalf of Rainier Cannabis, the store Seaton wants to open.
“He is clearly respectful of the city, taking part in the legislative process, and this is exactly the kind of person you would want to run this type of business,” Espegard said.
“He’s going to be responsive to any issues you may have and he’s going to respect your decisions.”
Espegard also said there is no public benefit listed in the un-amended ordinance, which may be a legal problem.
One person spoke against allowing a second marijuana store in the city. Mary Wright, a chiropractor who practices at Abundant Life Health Center, has attended every meeting discussing the proposed second store. Her office is located inside the same building Rainier Cannabis would be located, and she has said previously her clients have told her they would go elsewhere if a marijuana shop moved in next door.
On Monday night, she said notice was never posted on her building that a cannabis store would be moving in.
“Even though they’ve done a great job of the attorney stuff, they never let any of us know like the state requested them to do,” Wright said. Councilmember Seaun Richards asked if the city manager and city attorney could check with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to make sure the notice was properly posted.
Councilmember Laura Sonmore said she voted no because she said she wanted to represent the voices of residents concerned about health, welfare and children in the city.
“People know that secondhand smoke is an issue,” Sonmore said. “I have all the respect for business owners, but I do ultimately represent the people in our community that feel this is a health a wellness issue.”
The ordinance allowing a second marijuana shop in Mountlake Terrace goes into effect on July 1.
–By Natalie Covate