The Clallam County Department of Community Development (DCD) is charged with advising the Clallam County commissioners on matters of land use. This is precisely what DCD Director Sheila Roark Miller has failed to do with respect to the marijuana production and processing industry.
As late as a month ago, Miller spoke as if she had had no choice but to allow these quasi-industrial facilities in residential neighborhoods, citing the voters’ passage of I-502. This is simply false. Nothing in I-502 keeps local jurisdictions from regulating the siting of these facilities, as the State Attorney General affirmed back in January.
The job of the DCD director is to think ahead, research the industry, review the County Comprehensive Plan, interact with the Planning Commission and general public and engage the Board of Commissioners in a substantive dialogue about how to regulate this new activity, before the development applications start pouring in.
This did not happen.
Instead, Miller let the applications go through the cumbersome conditional-use permit process, which provided no clear guidelines for either applicants or affected residents. Some early applications were approved, and in other cases, alarmed neighbors organized, picketed the courthouse and packed public hearings to protest.
Suddenly, the DCD began recommending that applications be denied, much to the dismay of the confused entrepreneurs. Because of the lack of planning in the planning department, both sides were legitimately upset.
Under pressure, Miller’s department devised a tone-deaf, interim ordinance that still allowed these facilities in residential neighborhoods.
After another round of outrage from neighbors, the planning commission finally stepped into the vacuum left by the DCD director and composed the interim ordinance which the Board of Commissioners finally passed.
This aimless flip-flopping is bad for neighborhoods and businesses.
To right this situation, vote for Mary Ellen Winborn, who has built her architectural business on listening, planning and taking responsibility.