By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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Malik Atwater and Vivian Wai, spouses and co-owners of Colonel Hudson’s Famous Kitchen at 536 Marine Drive, received a conditional-use permit from the Port Angeles Planning Commission on Wednesday night.
“I’m happy that we got our permit, but I think they went overboard with some of the conditions,” Atwater said.
Atwater and Wai’s Mr. Buds was selected in a Washington State Liquor Control Board lottery to run one of two retail outlets for recreational marijuana in Port Angeles.
They needed a conditional-use permit from the city to locate the shop next to their restaurant because the Marine Drive property is in the city’s industrial light zone.
The zone, associate planner Scott Johns said, allows some uses — such as adult entertainment venues, cocktail lounges and retail stores — but does not specifically allow marijuana shops.
“The proposed use is a retail use,” he told the Planning Commission.
Atwater and Wai still must finalize their marijuana license with the state before they can set up their shop.
The other marijuana outlet chosen by the state was Sparket, now a medical marijuana dispensary, which is run by Nicholas Benge and Wendy Buck-Benge at 1403 E. First St.
They will not need permits from the city to operate because their property is in a commercial zone, Johns said.
The Mr. Buds shop will be in 900 square feet of a small building connected to their restaurant.
There was no public testimony during Wednesday’s hearing, and the city did not receive any written comments about the Mr. Buds shop before the May 26 comment deadline.
City officials did present the commission with a letter from the owners of Sunset Wire Rope, a hardware store next to Atwater’s and Wai’s building.
They expressed concern that the marijuana shop would increase the number of vagrants who hang out on the sidewalk and increase parking in front of the buildings.
Planning commissioners noted that the Mr. Buds shop has parking behind the building.
The Planning Commission voted unanimously to allow Atwater and Wai to set up Mr. Buds at the site under four conditions.
Three conditions were suggested by city planners: Atwater and Wai must obtain all necessary permits to run their business, must contact the city if they want to expand their business in the building, and the permit is good for one year.
Planning commissioners added a fourth condition during Wednesday’s hearing that required the shop to operate only between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Though state regulations on recreational marijuana outlets allow operations between 8 a.m. and midnight, Atwater and Wai said they likely would be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on their conditional-use permit application.
After the hearing, Atwater criticized the commission for limiting his shop’s hours.
“That was just something we put in there. I don’t think that’s right that they can limit us like that,” he said.
“We don’t know what is going to be our best schedule yet. We don’t know much yet.”
Atwater said he and his wife don’t smoke marijuana. They saw the shop as a business opportunity.
“We’re just doing it because we’re poor,” he said.
After the lottery selected the primary options for retail outlets, state officials began reviewing potential proprietors’ criminal histories and business plans before issuing final licenses.
Atwater said they have yet to hear from state regulators on their shop.
“They sent us a certificate saying we had won the license lottery, but we haven’t heard a word from the state beside that,” he said.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.