Cheney Free Press -



Marijuana ordinance gets first reading


Interim marijuana facility siting ordinance W-18 may have a new designation — W-33 — but it’s essentially the same zoning measure Cheney has been working on adopting since late November 2013.

That adoption took one more step towards reality Tuesday night as the City Council held its first reading on the ordinance regulating where marijuana production, processing and retail outlets locate in the city. The council approved the first reading at its March 25 reading, following a recommendation from the Planning Commission, with one caveat.

That came as a suggestion from city attorney Stanley Schwartz with regards to some language changes recommended by Councilman John Taves. Those revolved around ordinance language dealing with mandatory permit revocation for operations ranging from collective gardens to recreational and medical cannabis facilities, dispensaries and retail outlets.

The language stated a permit must be revoked whenever any of these operations’ location no longer satisfied the 1,000-foot buffer zone requirements dictated not only by Cheney’s ordinance but also by the Washington State Liquor Control Board. The buffer zone was part of language in Initiative 502 legalizing marijuana for recreational use, and requiring facilities to be outside of 1,000-feet from sensitive use facilities such as schools, parks, daycares and transit stops.

Schwartz said he agreed with Taves’ concerns that the permit revocation language may not be consistent with the state’s vested rights laws. Cheney’s one application for a marijuana production and processing facility, Cheney Hydroponics, has bought land in the city’s Commerce and Industrial Park and has vested rights as their permit application was filed before the interim zoning ordinance was adopted.

Schwartz suggested the council pass the first reading of the ordinance, after which he and his staff will do some research regarding vested rights and come back with changes.

“This is the only substantive change,” he said.

Mayor Tom Trulove agreed with the course of the ordinance, adding they expected a cleaned up version back at an upcoming council meeting in April.

“If that meets with your satisfaction, we could have the second and third readings and get this thing passed,” he said.

In other action, the council approved a $45,000 contract with American Utility and Residential Tree Service for the city’s annual line clearance program for pruning or removing trees near the city’s electrical distribution system. Light Department Director Joe Noland said the city had done previous business with three of the four bidders on the contract — the lone exception being American Utility and Residential Tree Service.

“We did some research and they received good reviews from Inland Power and Light,” Noland told the council.

The council approved a $11,022.65, five-year copy machine lease for the Wastewater Division from Ikon, and renewed the city’s participation for three years in Spokane County’s Community Development Block Grant program. The program has provided Cheney with $2.5 million in funding over 26 years, most of which Public Works Director Todd Ableman said has gone to street projects.

Finally, council approved the first reading of ordinance W-22 to amend and repeal portions of code Chapter 21-Zoning; and approved resolution E-206 upholding a recommendation to deny a rezoning of property along Clay Street.

John McCallum can be reached at


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