The Okanogan County commissioners are holding a public hearing on amendments to the zoning code that would change where cannabis could be grown. The proposal would also impose rules to minimize the impact on neighboring parcels. The public hearing is Monday (Jan. 28) at 7 p.m. in the commissioners’ auditorium in Okanogan.
The proposed changes require a parcel of at least 5 acres for a marijuana farm. In addition, outdoor cannabis grows cannot be in a high-density area, which is any place where the predominant lot size is 2 or 5 acres.
The changes would require a fence at least 25 feet from the neighboring property line, and 68 feet from the center-line of a county road.
Under the proposal, all types of lighting – not just grow lights and outdoor and security lighting – would have to be downcast and shielded from neighboring properties.
Marijuana farms would have to get a conditional-use permit in the Methow Review District (which runs from Gold Creek to Mazama). A conditional-use permit provides additional review and the opportunity for public comment. Farms are prohibited in residential zones.
Existing cannabis operations will be required to comply with stricter fencing, lighting and signage regulations by January 2021, according to the environmental checklist prepared for the proposed changes.
The county administrator would have enforcement authority for any marijuana operation determined not to be in compliance with county code.
The proposed changes come after a moratorium on new cannabis businesses, a review by a cannabis advisory committee composed of members of the public and of the cannabis industry, and several public hearings on interim proposals.
The county’s planning director has found the changes wouldn’t have a significant environmental impact.
People can provide up to five minutes of verbal comment at the hearing, or submit written comments at the hearing or in advance to Cortney Ingle at email@example.com. For more information or a copy of the proposed zoning changes, contact the Planning Department at (509) 422-7160.