Cheney City Council members voted unanimously to rescind a moratorium imposed at the Nov. 13, 2012 meeting on land use considerations revolving around production, processing or retailing of marijuana and products associated with its use in the city.
The six-month moratorium was imposed in response to voter passage of Initiative 502 that legalized the possession, use and sale of specific amounts of marijuana and products associated with its use. As part of the moratorium the council held a public hearing to take testimony at its meeting Tuesday night, Jan. 8.
City Administrator Arlene Fisher recapped aspects of the initiative and moratorium, which was established in order to allow the city time to study the measure, identify sensitive areas requiring protection and establish areas within the city where businesses wishing to sell marijuana and associated paraphernalia could locate.
Language in the initiative established a 1,000 foot buffer zone around sensitive uses that precludes location of businesses involved in marijuana and paraphernalia sales. Sensitive uses include schools, churches, known licensed day care centers, parks, pools and other public places.
Fisher said city staff located these uses in the city, drew a circle around each location and plotted this on a map, which was shown to the council.
“As you can see from the map there are not really any places where you can locate in the city of Cheney,” she said.
Most of the city is encompassed by these buffer zones, which what’s left over being located along portions of First Street/SR 904 in the business park, light industrial, general commercial and downtown commercial zones. Also part of the initiative is a requirement that signage be no more than 1,600 square inches.
“Roughly a three by four foot sign,” Cheney Community Development Director Brian Jennings said.
Several council members directed questions at both Fisher and Jennings, including Fred Pollard, who asked about any potential consequences for home day care facilities. Jennings noted that the majority of these were generally in residential areas locations where commercial uses are not allowed.
“The chance of it impacting the commercial zone is pretty limited,” he said.
In other business the council approved renewal of an annual contract with Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS) for animal control services in the city. The cost of the contract is $12,517, but the city agreed to remit one-half of annual license fees to SCRAPS, bringing the projected overall cost to the city down to $7,074.
The council also agreed to enter into a contract with Abuse Recovery Ministry and Services (ARMS) for volunteer domestic violence advocacy services for victims of domestic violence associated with cases filed through Cheney Municipal Court. Spokane associate director Ginger Johnson told the council that ARMS, founded in Hillsboro, Ore. has been around 15 years, seven in Spokane, and has chapters in nine states that have helped over 12,000 victims of domestic violence with resources on violence prevention and legal advocacy. Johnson noted that in 2012 Cheney’s Municipal Court had 33 cases on its docket associated with domestic violence with at least one victim who could have received a referral to ARMS for assistance if desire.
Councilwoman Theresa Overhauser asked if the program was only for women or if there was one for men as well, which Johnson and Court Administrator Terri Cooper noting there were programs for both. Overhauser also asked if there was any evangelical influence in ARMS.
“It is faith-based,” Johnson said. “It is not for proselytizing or any of that type of business.”
Cooper noted that organizations such as YWCA and Lutheran Services have provided similar resources for Spokane County for many years.
Finally the council agreed to an annual renewal of a contract with Uniserve to provide janitorial services for City Hall, the utility building, police department and the Wren Pierson Community Center. The contract contained a prevailing wage increase for 2013, bringing the total value up from $3,694.72 to $3,780.53.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.