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By Dan Rudy 

P&Z denies pot appeal, approves zoning recommendations

 


Meeting in a special session last week, Wrangell’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved a recommendation to the Assembly for changes to a local ordinance allowing for various classes of cannabis-related businesses.

The recommendations follow several meetings the commission has held over the past couple of months to determine which activities licensed by the state would be appropriate for which zones. The memorandum approved on May 26 recommends updates to the city’s zoning regulations, which currently do not take marijuana processing or cultivation into consideration.

Based on a current reading of the code, Planning and Zoning denied an appeal by business owner Kelsey Martinsen to allow him conditional use to grow and process the plants on his commercial property off of Front Street, behind his Diamond C Cafe.

In addition to a retail and manufacturing license, Martinsen is in the process of applying for a standard cultivator’s license. In order to acquire the licenses from the state he must demonstrate his proposed activities would conform with local zoning. In March the city denied his proposal because the cultivation and manufacturing activities exceeded what is allowable in commercial zoning. The retail end of his envisioned business would be permissible under current guidelines.

However, commissioners recommended that the Assembly update commercial zoning to allow limited cultivation of up to 2,000 square feet and that some forms of manufacturing be allowed. If adopted, Martinsen’s proposed activities would thereby be permissible.

Commissioners determined any licensed activities related to marijuana ought to require conditional use permitting, allowing proposed business plans to undergo a public hearing process before approval. While the commission was against allowing any variety of such activity in single- or multi-family residential zones, at last week’s meeting it decided cultivation of 500 square feet and above can be allowed within rural residential zoning, provided the property is at least two acres large and all required setbacks are met.

It also concluded limited cultivation of less than 500 square feet, as well as non-solvent related manufacturing, testing and retail, should be allowed in rural residential zones, provided the property is at least an acre in size and the development meets all applicable setbacks.

Zoning administrator Carol Rushmore explained after the meeting that the commission’s recommendations will likely be taken up by the Assembly at its next meeting, set for June 14 at 7 p.m.

 

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