Sat, May 30, 2020
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Willapa Harbor Herald • Town Crier
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(360) 942-3466 • PO Box 706, Raymond, WA 98577

Vader residents staunchly opposing proposal for new marijuana facility

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Strong opposition to a proposed marijuana production facility in Vader has been expressed by residents and officials in the lead-up to a Vader City Council meeting featuring the issue Tuesday night.

The marijuana facility, proposed by Seattle developer Brandon Milton, was a prominent topic of discussion Saturday during the Mayor’s Pie and Ice Cream Social at Werden Park when candidates for City Council stood to address the audience.

All candidates in attendance (Andy Wilson, seeking Council Position 1, Hallie Sword, seeking Council Position 1, and Joe Schey, seeking Council Position 3) spoke openly against the proposal, stating they believe Vader does not need a marijuana production facility harming its already-fragile reputation in the midst of efforts to clean up local drug activity.

They also expressed dismay at the notion the marijuana facility would be located in a building that had, since 2004, been touted as the future location of Absolute German, an online car parts store currently operated by Milton in Seattle. Wilson said he feels the efforts Vader has undertaken to help Milton develop the property, through grants and other resources, had been under the impression they were supporting a car parts distribution center, not a marijuana production plant.

"Let them build it themselves, and let them go broke," he said of ongoing efforts to extend water and sewer lines to the facility, for which Vader had recently sought the assistance of a $178,000 county-allocated grant.

(The grant was tuned down last month due to a lack of specifics regarding the project, according to Mayor Ken Smith, and had not been affected by Milton’s proposal for a marijuana facility, as officials had expressed no knowledge of his plans at the time. It had also been proposed Vader would purchase the tract of land intended for utility and road development for $1 from Milton and his company MPM in order to help the project qualify for the grant, but Milton confirmed the transaction has yet to take place.)

But for all that has been said—and is expected to be said—on the issue, Vader may have no recourse to prevent the facility from being installed, as the Liquor Control Board has already said the State, not cities, has authority to allow or disallow permits for such establishments, and that cities who seek to bar developers from installing them may be subject to suit as licensed marijuana facilities are now legal.

The City Council is expected to be informed of their legal standing by City Attorney Jim Buzzard during the meeting, with Smith declining to describe details of said standing Saturday afternoon. Smith did state, however, he believes Vader’s legal position in the mater, once discussed and vetted by the City Council, may likely serve as a guideline for other municipalities who find themselves in similar circumstances.

For the results of Tuesday night’s discussions, as well as any action taken by the City Council, look for upcoming issues of Town Crier, or go to www.hometowndebate.com.

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