Soldotna extends marijuana moratorium to February

Soldotna has a couple more months to figure out what the city’s rules and regulations in regards to marijuana will be.

The moratorium on commercial marijuana within city limits will be extended an additional 45 days, after unanimous approval from the Soldotna City Council at its Wednesday night meeting.

The moratorium was set to expire on Jan. 1, 2018, but will now extend until Feb. 15, 2018, meaning no marijuana businesses will be allowed in the city and nobody will be able to submit an application for a land use permit, zoning permit or building permit for a marijuana business before Feb. 15.

“It’s meant as a safety net for potential business owners so they have a clear understanding of all the regulations potentially before they invest in locations,” said interim City Manager Stephanie Queen.

Queen said that the ordinance was brought forward to address scheduling.

“We really charted out the timeline that we thought would be necessary to put in place both the zoning regulations and the additional general regulations for the council to consider in regards to marijuana business,” Queen said.

Currently, the city’s planning and zoning commission is working on a recommendation to bring forward to the city council regarding marijuana. The commission will hold its next meeting on Jan. 3.

“We’ve been notified from folks who are interested in starting a business inside the city of Soldotna that the state alcohol marijuana control office is allowing folks to start that process,” Queen said. “It’s a several month long process, but knowing that, potentially, folks are going to be seeking to make these types of decisions this extra 45 days will get us through mid-February which should be sufficient to bring forth a set of ordinances … and have those adopted in time for the moratorium extension to run out.”

With the state allowing applications to be submitted, Queen expressed concerns that someone interested in starting a marijuana business in Soldotna would start the process only to find out later that a location they’ve invested in has been deemed inviable becuase of the regulations the city puts into place.

“Basically what’s happening is we’re trying to figure out what to do with marijuana in the city and this allows us to buy a little bit more time before we have to make a decision,” Soldotna Mayor Nels Anderson said.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

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