Dayton seeks longer pot moratorium

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DAYTON — Dayton is considering extending its marijuana moratorium for another six months to give the city time to develop zoning regulations.

Dayton initially adopted a six-month moratorium on Sept. 23, 2013, which prohibited marijuana retail, processing and growth operations within the city. But city planner Karen Sharer said the city hasn’t been able to develop zoning regulations yet, and is seeking another six months to complete the process.

Part of the issue is that Dayton had always planned to work with Columbia County to develop regulations, since the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement services to Dayton. The county approved a yearlong marijuana moratorium on Sept. 18, 2013 and is just now beginning to consider regulations.

Sharer met with County Commissioner Dwight Robanske and Sheriff Rocky Miller last week to begin discussing zoning. The working group, which will also include public health representatives, will consider what other counties and cities have done to regulate marijuana and discuss issues of enforcement.

In the meantime, Dayton City Council will consider an emergency six-month extension of the city’s moratorium at the regular Council meeting on Monday at 7 p.m. A public hearing on the extension will be held at the March 24 meeting.

The working group will meet again on March 14, and plans to have a first draft of marijuana regulations for the Dayton Planning Commission to review by mid-April.

Sharer said the working group’s goal is to develop regulations for Dayton and Columbia County, not to decide whether recreational marijuana businesses should be allowed. That issue is up to the city and county’s planning commissions.

“At this point it doesn’t seem like anyone has made up their mind,” she said. “I think we’re all going in this fairly open-minded as far as how and where and if the county and the city should either permit marijuana in some fashion or not.”

Rachel Alexander can be reached at rachelalexander@wwub.com or 509-526-8363.

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