Pubdate: Sat, 14 Feb 2015
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AK)
Copyright: 2015 Fairbanks Publishing Company, Inc.
Author: Amanda Bohman


FAIRBANKS - Just where in the Fairbanks North Star Borough marijuana 
businesses should be allowed and under what conditions continued to 
be discussed Friday by a special panel convened by Mayor Luke Hopkins

It was the second meeting of the marijuana working group. Hopkins is 
working on a new zoning ordinance, dealing with pot businesses, that 
is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks.

Borough planners presented ideas via PowerPoint, offering a glimpse 
into the kind of zoning ordinance the mayor is crafting.

Possible zones compatible with marijuana facilities are agricultural, 
commercial, industrial and general use, according to borough planner 
Kellen Spillman.

But just what types of businesses - cultivation, manufacturing, 
testing or retail sales - should be allowed where is what needs to be 
puzzled out.

Leaders in the business, law enforcement, military, education and 
health sectors discussed issues such as whether buffer zones around 
schools should be 500 feet or 1,000 feet and what to do about the 
Badger Road area.

Residential development has ballooned in the Badger Road corridor, 
but the area mostly has general-use zoning, the most permissive in the borough.

"We might want to have additional regulations," Spillman said, "just 
because of the neighborhoods that have developed."

An estimated 90 percent of the borough is zoned as general use. Just 
about anything is allowed except for correctional facilities and 
communication towers, according to the borough's code of ordinances.

If Hopkins' anticipated zoning ordinance is anything like the slide 
show, all manner of marijuana businesses would be allowed in 
general-use zoning, though most businesses would need to be vetted 
through a public process that includes a public hearing.

Industrial and commercial zoning were identified as the most 
compatible with marijuana businesses. Marijuana cultivation was 
identified as a possible land use under agricultural zoning.

Brad Johnson, deputy chief at the Fairbanks Police Department, 
questioned treating marijuana growing like an agricultural operation.

Johnson said from what he has seen, marijuana cultivation is carried 
out indoors.

"Some of our zoning perspective may be slightly obsolete," he said. 
"All of the cultivation operations in Colorado that I am aware of, at 
least in the Denver metro area, are indoor."

University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Brian Rogers said that, 
while cannabis is prohibited at the university, he wants cannabis 
testing to be a permitted activity.

Mike Bork, director of borough parks and recreation, said he 
anticipates marijuana use at parks facilities to continue after the 
decriminalization of marijuana on Feb. 24.

"I think we are still going to have a lot of public use in parks," he said.

Bork urged local leaders to decide who would confront people caught 
using marijuana in public. Will it be law enforcement or a borough 
code enforcement officer?

The panel also discussed what sorts of places in addition to schools 
might need a buffer zone. Churches, libraries, youth centers, 
child-care facilities, pools and public housing were identified as 
possible "sensitive receptors."

The panel was also asked to weigh in on standards for the size of pot 

Hopkins' anticipated zoning ordinance will be reviewed by the borough 
Planning Commission and the Borough Assembly.

Among the local leaders to attend the marijuana working group meeting 
were Assembly members Diane Hutchison, Guy Sattley and John Davies, 
North Pole Mayor Bryce Ward and Fairbanks city Mayor John Eberhart.

The borough is responsible for establishing zoning rules.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom