The Chelan County Commissioners held a hearing in Wenatchee on Nov 10 to hear commentary on the 6-month moratorium on licensing of marijuana operations in Chelan County which was enacted by the Commissioners on September 29 of this year. There was a standing-room only crowd at the hearing, a large percentage of them from the Plain/Lake Wenatchee area, there to comment on the more specific issue of the marijuana-growing application pending for a location on Beaver Valley Highway just north of “downtown” Plain.  Other speakers were people living near current growing operations, supporters of legal marijuana operations and one lobbyist representing the marijuana industry.

Sgt Bruce Long of the Chelan County Sheriff’s Department addressed concerns about growing operations in general and the Plain site specifically, acknowledging that marijuana growing operations are an attractive target for theft of the crops and that people carrying out those thefts do represent the potential for dangerous confrontations with law enforcement or citizens. Many of the speakers complained of the smell generated by growing operations and the ugly aesthetics of the high fences, lighting and other security provisions required at these sites. The industry lobbyist acknowledged the odor problems but stated the industry is trying hard to resolve those issues and that the operators would strive to be good neighbors. He also argued  that tax revenue from marijuana sales is essential to adequate funding of public schools.

The lady that sold the Plain site to the marijuana operators described how she was deceived by the purchaser who told her several different stories about what he wanted to do with the property, the truth not being among what she was told. The buyer later admitted to her that he did not tell the truth because he believed she would not sell to him if she knew the truth. The purchaser/operator of the proposed growing operation spoke and stated he is an anesthesiologist who does not use marijuana, wishes to be a good and responsible neighbor in Plain.

The Commissioners stressed that the purpose of the meeting was to solicit specific suggestions of what  provisions should be included in drafting revisions of the County Code or zoning restrictions for marijuana growing, processing or retail operations. Several were suggested by speakers and additional suggestions will be considered if submitted by email to the Commissioners. The Commissioners did say they would consider holding  a public meeting at a later date in the Plain/Lake Wenatchee area to hear public comment on the proposed marijuana-growing operation in Plain.  At the conclusion of the meeting the Commissioners affirmed that the 6-month moratorium put in place September 29th would remain in effect.