Commissioners Request State Review of West Richland Cannabis Retail License
 
Posted on Wednesday June 28, 2017
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2017 

Contact Shyanne Faulconer
Email Shyanne.Faulconer@co.benton.wa.us
Phone (509) 222-3760


COMMISSIONERS REQUEST LCB REVIEW OF WEST RICHLAND CANNABIS RETAIL LICENSE

Kennewick, WA – The Benton County Board of Commissioners has requested that the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) review the recently issued LCB License Number 4222498 for the Nirvana Cannabis Company at 4950 Arena Road, in the West Richland area.

Review Request
It has come to the Commissioners’ attention that the site address (4950 Arena Road) for the new retail business establishment is located in close proximity to an operating preschool and early learning academy, area school bus stops, a local church which provides primary education, and their associated playgrounds.

The Benton County Board of Commissioners believes it is in the best interest of the welfare, health, and safety of the people of Benton County that the Nirvana Cannabis Company not be allowed to operate or to be licensed at 4950 Arena Road, and has requested that the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board review said license through application of RCW 69.50.331(8) and WAC 314-55-050(17).

Background Information Regarding Zoning, Land Use
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board has allocated Benton County four (4) licenses for retail cannabis establishments. Currently there are three (3) State-approved retail cannabis establishments operating within Benton County, with the property in question (the West Richland area/Arena Road) being the fourth and final State-approved retail cannabis establishment allowed under the Benton County allotment. The four (4) retail cannabis establishments are all zoned General Commercial and are listed as follows: 1) Inside Prosser City Limits – “Altitudes”; 2) Griffin Road area – “The Bakeshop”; 3) Finley – “Green 2 Go”; and 4) The West Richland area/Arena Road – “Nirvana Cannabis Company”.

The property in question (the West Richland area/Arena Road) is zoned General Commercial, and is located within the unincorporated portions of Benton County within the City of West Richland’s Urban Growth Area (UGA). The County, under Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) laws, is required to zone property consistent with the respective City’s Comprehensive Land Use designation for property within their UGA. The City of West Richland, in their Comprehensive Plan, has designated the property in question for commercial purposes – thus the General Commercial zoning designation by Benton County. Within the General Commercial zoning district, retail activities, such as the sale of marijuana (in accordance with I-502 and associated Washington State laws) is an allowable use.

City and County land use regulations within UGA’s are required to be similar in the classifications of the different types of properties in a broad sense. Meaning that if a City designates unincorporated County property inside their respective UGA for commercial purposes, then the County must also designate said property for commercial purposes. Where things differ, as an example, is when the City and the County have different allowable uses within their respective City/County codes for the different types of zones (i.e. commercial). The City may allow or prohibit activities in commercial zones that differ from what the County may allow or prohibit.

With retail activities, such as the sale of cannabis (in accordance with I-502 and associated Washington State laws) being designated as an allowed use by Benton County Zoning rather than a conditional use, notification of neighboring land uses and associated public review/open record hearings would not be required. 

It is important to note that Benton County does not administer or enforce State of Washington siting or licensing requirements for these types of establishments. This is a duty of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. When an establishment chooses to site a new location or transfer a license from one site to another, the State of Washington, not Benton County, is responsible for approving or denying the new location and/or transfer and is additionally responsible for insuring that the State approved siting criteria is adhered to.

Summary
The Board of Benton County Commissioners is committed to resolving this important issue and will continue to take steps to inform the public of any progress made. Please visit the Benton County website at www.co.benton.wa.us under “Latest News” for further information and continued updates.

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Timeline of Events

Early March 2017
  • Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board (LCB) contacted Benton County regarding the transfer of an approved marijuana retail license to the Arena Road site.
  • Benton County objected to the Arena Road marijuana retail establishment location as it was the County’s understanding that there were only three (3) marijuana retail licenses allocated for Benton County by the State LCB, and that there were already three (3) State LCB approved marijuana retail licensed establishments operating within Benton County. The State LCB informed Benton County that the allotment for Benton County had been changed from 3 marijuana retail licenses to 4 marijuana retail licenses.
  • Both the City of Richland and the City of West Richland were contacted by Benton County regarding the State LCB approved marijuana retail license.
Late May 2017
  • Property owners at 4950 Arena Road applied for a building permit through Benton County for a permit to convert a single-family residence into a commercial retail establishment within the General Commercial zone.
Mid-Late June 2017
  • Neighbors of the proposed Arena Road marijuana retail establishment became aware of the project and contacted Benton County to voice concerns.
June 27, 2017
  • Board of County Commissioners received input from concerned residents in and around the Arena Road area about the proposed location for the marijuana retail establishment during their regularly scheduled Board meeting under “Unscheduled Visitors” (the item was not on the scheduled agenda).
  • Board of County Commissioners, at their regularly scheduled board meeting, approved sending a letter to the State LCB requesting that the marijuana retail license for the Arena Road property be revoked based upon applicable RCW’s/WAC’s. View the letter here:  BOCC Letter to Washington State LCB
  • Benton County Building Manager issued a “cease and desist” order for the Arena Road property upon learning at the Board meeting of the building activity occurring at the proposed site without a valid building permit having been issued.
 
 

 
Benton County    620 Market Street    Prosser, Washington 99350
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