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Commissioners request LCB review of West Richland cannabis retail license

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KENNEWICK, WA – The Benton County Board of Commissioners has requested that the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) review the recently issued LCB License Number 4222498 for the Nirvana Cannabis Company at 4950 Arena Road, in the West Richland area.

Review Request

It has come to the Commissioners’ attention that the site address (4950 Arena Road) for the new retail business establishment is located in close proximity to an operating preschool and early learning academy, area school bus stops, a local church which provides primary education, and their associated playgrounds.

The Benton County Board of Commissioners believes it is in the best interest of the welfare, health, and safety of the people of Benton County that the Nirvana Cannabis Company not be allowed to operate or to be licensed at 4950 Arena Road, and has requested that the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board review said license through application of RCW 69.50.331(8) and WAC 314-55-050(17).

Background Information Regarding Zoning, Land Use

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board has allocated Benton County four (4) licenses for retail cannabis establishments. Currently there are three (3) State-approved retail cannabis establishments operating within Benton County, with the property in question (the West Richland area/Arena Road) being the fourth and final State-approved retail cannabis establishment allowed under the Benton County allotment. The four (4) retail cannabis establishments are all zoned General Commercial and are listed as follows: 1) Inside Prosser City Limits – “Altitudes”; 2) Griffin Road area – “The Bakeshop”; 3) Finley – “Green 2 Go”; and 4) The West Richland area/Arena Road – “Nirvana Cannabis Company”.

The property in question (the West Richland area/Arena Road) is zoned General Commercial, and is located within the unincorporated portions of Benton County within the City of West Richland’s Urban Growth Area (UGA). The County, under Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) laws, is required to zone property consistent with the respective City’s Comprehensive Land Use designation for property within their UGA. The City of West Richland, in their Comprehensive Plan, has designated the property in question for commercial purposes – thus the General Commercial zoning designation by Benton County. Within the General Commercial zoning district, retail activities, such as the sale of marijuana (in accordance with I-502 and associated Washington State laws) is an allowable use.

City and County land use regulations within UGA’s are required to be similar in the classifications of the different types of properties in a broad sense. Meaning that if a City designates unincorporated County property inside their respective UGA for commercial purposes, then the County must also designate said property for commercial purposes. Where things differ, as an example, is when the City and the County have different allowable uses within their respective City/County codes for the different types of zones (i.e. commercial). The City may allow or prohibit activities in commercial zones that differ from what the County may allow or prohibit.

With retail activities, such as the sale of cannabis (in accordance with I-502 and associated Washington State laws) being designated as an allowed use by Benton County Zoning rather than a conditional use, notification of neighboring land uses and associated public review/open record hearings would not be required.

It is important to note that Benton County does not administer or enforce State of Washington siting or licensing requirements for these types of establishments. This is a duty of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. When an establishment chooses to site a new location or transfer a license from one site to another, the State of Washington, not Benton County, is responsible for approving or denying the new location and/or transfer and is additionally responsible for insuring that the State approved siting criteria is adhered to.

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