Coupeville marijuana business pulls permit application

One of two applicants for recreational marijuana-based businesses on Whidbey Island pulled their application this week.

Ester Bandelin Rodriguez said the Coupeville-based Salish Sea Industries is withdrawing its land-use permit because of federal regulation conflicts.

Rodriguez, along with Judy and Josh Harvey, and Mark Rodriguez, proposed to build a 3,833-square-foot barn for the production and processing of marijuana on Edgefield Lane off Engle Road.

The problem, Rodriguez said, was part of the property includes a conservation easement with the Whidbey Camano Land Trust.

“As there is a federal component to this easement, which provides little to no flexibility at present time, we simply do not wish to enter into a protracted legal battle with the federal government at taxpayer expense,” Rodriguez and her counterparts said in a prepared statement.

Pat Powell, executive director for the Land Trust, said she notified Salish Sea Industries that the terms of the conservation easement would not allow them to do something that is in violation of federal law.

Powell said part of the $75,000 easement was paid for with federal funds.

“The Land Trust has no position on this issue,” she said. “We just have to make sure property owners comply with easement regulations.”

Proposed location for Salish Sea Industries lies within Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. County officials initially discussed limiting pot businesses from the area but didn’t after Coupeville farmers said they were against restrictions that would treat Central Whidbey different from other areas of the county.

While the permit was still in process, the public was invited to comment.

One resident wrote against the proposed business, but Rodriguez said he was misinformed and thought all property within in the reserve was federally owned. In fact, she said, a large portion is privately owned.

While working on the permit application, Salish Sea Industries worked with Island County, the Land Trust and Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.

“To our knowledge, we were in good standing with all of them,” Rodriguez said. “The only conflict we encountered was the easement.”

While not all of the proposed location is conservation easement, Salish Sea Industries cannot operate on the other portion of the property because the bordering property is zoned rural residential.

Per Island County Code, marijuana-based businesses cannot operate in rural-residential areas.

Another permit application still in processing is submitted by Maureen Cooke, who filed applications for a site plan and a building permit for a 760-square-foot marijuana retail store in Bayview next to the El Corral Mexican restaurant.

She opened the shop for a short time in early August — though she didn’t have any product — but it turned out she didn’t have the necessary approvals from the county.

Cooke failed to return calls for comment this week.

A third Whidbey Island business, Bud Brothers, a proposed producer/processor business on Goldie Road in Oak Harbor, submitted a preapplication this month, .

“We’ve had several preapplication conferences and conversations with potential applicants that have yet to file for county approval, but at present, we have only three applications,” said Island County Planning Director David Wechner.

Wechner confirmed via email Tuesday that Salish Sea Industries withdrew its application.

Wechner said Bud Brothers has an appointment to turn in an application on Monday.

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