Redmond Ridge residents fight to keep pot farm away

by: David Ham Updated:

SEATTLE, Wash. —

Dozens of Redmond Ridge residents packed the King County Council chambers on Monday afternoon to sound off about a proposal for a pot  growing and processing plant in their neighborhood.

 "We, as a neighborhood, are feeling somewhat specially targeted in an ordinance that would fairly regulate all of King County," said Jen Boone, who spoke to the council.

Red Ridge Farms LLC applied for a permit for a large-scale marijuana growing and processing facility in the neighborhood with about 3,000 homes.

"This is going to be an absolute magnet for crime.  When you have a product that has a 75 percent tax on it, (a) viable black market would love to get their hands on that product tax-free," said state Sen. Andy Hill.

 A representative for the applicant did not appear to be present at the council meeting.

 "People voted for it, thinking it would free up police resources thinking they wouldn’t have to go after drug offenses and things like that, but they didn't think it would be anywhere close to you, that it would be right in their backyard," said Diana Brown, who lives in Redmond Ridge.

 According to state law, the minimum buffer is for the plant to be one thousand feet away from any schools or parks.

 The proposed site is about a third of a mile away from The Goddard School, a day care facility, and about an eighth of a mile away from Redmond Ridge Park.

 However, one resident who is also a land surveyor challenged the county's assessment.

 "The county had not included Elliston Park and when you include a playground with that buffer of a thousand feet.  Now, you can see the four parcels are literally wedged in between," said Jayson Nakamura, as he showed County Council members a county map. 

Council member Reagan Dunn responded, "Sounds like we're inside those buffers, based on what you've done.  I need our permitting agency to go back and review these facts."

Randy Newell owns property in the area and spoke in favor of the pot farm in the neighborhood.

He also understands the many concerns of neighbors.

"It's in a Catch-22.  It's got to be there but they don’t want it there. Maybe give it to people that do want to take advantage of the area and put it in other areas," said Newell.

The King County Council is expected to vote on the permit next Monday.