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June 25, 2022

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Woodland may reverse ban on retail pot

Planning panel OKs change, city council to vote on proposal

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A pair of proposed planning changes in Woodland would alter the city’s approach to marijuana and mixed-use developments.

The Woodland Planning Commission voted 2-1 in favor of allowing limited retail marijuana stores during its Feb. 17 meeting. The recommended ordinance allows the stores in the city’s C-2 highway commercial zone.

The commission earlier unanimously voted to recommend a series of changes to the city’s permitted mixed-use developments in the same C-2 zone, ending a moratorium on new developments the city put in place late last year.

Both zoning changes still need to be voted on by the Woodland City Council before taking effect. Community development director Travis Goddard said the ordinances are in the council’s packets for the March 7 meeting.

The change to the cannabis ban was requested by 20After4, a retail marijuana store that has been operating in Woodland since May. 20After4 moved from its Kelso location in 2020 and the new location in Woodland had been approved by the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board despite the city’s ban.

While the ban remains in place, the store can receive daily fines from the city for remaining open in violation of city law. It also prevents the city from receiving any money from the state for legal marijuana sales.

“Keeping retail out of Woodland is not going to keep marijuana out of Woodland,” planning commissioner Tel Jensen said. “All it’s going to do is keep the tax revenue out of Woodland, and probably a handful of jobs, as well.”

Commissioner Shawna Gawthorne largely cited moral concerns as her reason for voting against the measure, saying she didn’t want to make it easier for teenagers and children to get weed.

The owners of two neighboring businesses, Rooster Brew Coffee and Big Foot Bark and Soil, turned in comments that the store’s extra security cameras and employee presence made the area feel safer. Hundreds of 20After4 customers signed a logbook to show they are interested in visiting other Woodland businesses, in an attempt to indicate the store’s broader economic benefits for the city.

A previous version of the ordinance repealing the ban had been brought up by city staff in fall 2020 and was voted down by the City Council.

Mixed-use permits detailed in new code

The Woodland City Council enacted a moratorium in June on projects that would bring residential uses into the city’s commercial zoning areas. The six-month moratorium was extended by the council in August, and the details of the proposed ordinance were worked out at following planning commission meetings.

At the time of the moratorium, Goddard said the city wanted to make sure there was a consistent approach to any new developments that mixed residential and commercial uses. The previous case-by-case approach led to different outcomes for two controversial projects in 2021, a senior living facility and an RV park.

The ordinance specifies that mixed-use buildings must have a commercial space making up the ground floor. Up to three floors of living spaces could be built above the storefront and any planned mixed-use projects must show a “reasonable consistency with the comprehensive plan” for the commercial side of the building.

The proposed ordinance outlines a list of businesses that would not be allowed at the bottom of a mixed-use development. The prohibited list includes hotels and motels, live-work units, electric vehicle charging stations, parking garages, public transit stations and recycling collection points.

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