The Bellevue City Council approved interim zoning for legal recreational pot businesses in the state’s fifth-biggest city.
In a 5-1 vote Monday night, the council restricted marijuana production and processing to areas zoned for light industrial uses, and limited pot stores generally to where former state liquor stores were located. The state Liquor Control Board, the agency charged with implementing the voter-approved recreational law, has allocated four retail store licenses for Bellevue. Sales are expected to begin by next summer.
Initiative 502, which legalized recreational weed last year, was approved by 59 percent of Bellevue voters in the 2012 election. Regardless of what people think of marijuana, Deputy Mayor Jennifer Robertson said, Bellevue needed to exercise its authority to control location and other facets of legal pot businesses.
Council member Don Davidson cast the only dissenting vote. Kevin Wallace was absent. Davidson said there was no reason he had to adopt what he called “poor public policy.”
The new rules are in effect for six months while the city drafts, considers and holds hearings on permanent zoning. If a state-licensed entrepreneur opened a Bellevue business under the interim rules and the permanent zoning made that location improper, such a business would be still be legal, said city spokeswoman Emily Christensen.
Seattle attorney Kurt Boehl said he expects other suburban cities to follow Bellevue’s lead.
“As Bellevue goes, so will the east side. I think we’ll see Redmond and Kirkland follow,” said Boehl, who represents entrepreneurs interested in Bellevue. He called Bellevue’s rules “pretty progressive” and “ahead of the curve.”