Commissioners object to Grays River pot store

Corrected: Marijuana store proposed for Grays River, not Rosburg


February 15, 2018

Editor's Note: This story is corrected from first publication, which incorrectly reported a business owner has applied for an application to open a marijuana store in the old Rosburg Store; the correct location, according to the application, is 3772 SR 4, Grays River, which is approximately across the highway from the Hull Creek Road intersection and Merserve Park. We apologize for the error. Ed Miller notified us that he is remodeling the old Rosburg Store and intends to sell groceries, hot food and fuel, with reopening planned for April or May. The corrected story follows:

Wahkiakum County commissioners on Tuesday covered a variety of issues ranging from a proposed marijuana store location to progress on beach nourishment permitting.

Evergreen State Enterprises, Vancouver, has applied for a license to sell recreational and medical marijuana at the old Rosburg Store. The state Liquor and Cannabis Board seeks local comment before approving applications, and Commissioners Mike Backman, Blair Brady and Dan Cothren were unanimous in disapproval of the application.

Commissioners received a letter from the board of commissioners of Wahkiakum County Fire District No. 2 opposing the application. The fire commissioners pointed out that the store is very near a county park and a school bus stop, and they felt commercial activity at the store could create dangerous traffic situations.

Westend resident Carol Larson also spoke against the application, pointing out the close proximity to the park, and adding the location of a cash based business in a remote area of the county would put pressure on the county's understaffed sheriff's department.

Applicant John Finnigan commented.

"We want to be good neighbors," he said. Things like the issues you've brought up, we're happy to work with you on them."

Commissioner Brady pointed out that state law provides setbacks for marijuana stores and parks, and the store is closer to the park than statute allows. Commissioners have previously objected to another proposed license application on that basis.

"Should you find a location within the legal parameters, I would not object," Brady said.

Dredging update

Commissioners reported a bit of good news in their work to obtain permits and set up a 10-year beach nourishment dredging program.

Brady reported that the county apparently won't have to take action against a property owner with a parcel in the middle of the Pancake Point/East Sunny Sands Erosion Control Zone District.

The US Army Corps of Engineers requires contiguous properties in a zone for cost efficiency, and one owner had been reluctant to grant access easements but that position is now changed, Brady said.

"The downside is that the president proposed budget (released this week) has a 22 percent cut in funding for the Corps of Engineers," Brady said. "That doesn't mean it will happen; that's just his wish list."

Timberland garbage issues

Cothren reported the proposed state 2019 Capitol Budget contains $3 million which would be split between Wahkiakum, Pacific and Skamania counties as annual compensation for loss of revenue from state-managed trust timberland encumbered by endangered species habitat restrictions.

Commissioners voted to send a letter to legislators outlining the need for the funding and for development of a permanent solution involving an exchange of timberland.

Cothren added he fears access to state timberland in the region may be restricted because of illegal dumping. Private timber companies already install gates to keep illegal dumping off their land, and Cothren feels the state may follow suit.

Cothren said he sees much dumped garbage while he performs his security patrols for Hancock Forest Industries.

"There are mattresses and beds, big screen TVs, speakers," he said. "Up Mill Creek, there are dumped cars, etc., on the state managed lands.

"We better have a wake up call or they're going to put up gates."

Members of the commission's audience asked about dumping on private property, and commissioners said the heath department will investigate reports they receive. The department is working with one property owner in the Elochoman Valley, but the progress is slow, Cothren said.


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