Pubdate: Thu, 02 Jun 2016
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AK)
Copyright: 2016 Fairbanks Publishing Company, Inc.
Author: Amanda Bohman


FAIRBANKS - Efforts are underway to stop marijuana businesses from 
opening in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

A Salcha man is launching an initiative with hopes to keep legal 
marijuana trade out of the borough, while the president of a strip 
mall condominium association maintains pot shops are prohibited in 
the River Mall on College Road under condo association rules because 
marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

The borough so far has issued more than 40 land use permits for 
different marijuana businesses, mainly cultivation.

Another six applications for land use permits are pending, according 
to the borough Department of Community Planning.

Eleven of the total permits are for marijuana stores.

Initiative pending

The initiative to prohibit marijuana commerce in the borough is 
pending review by Borough Clerk Nanci Ashford-Bingham, who said she 
received the application Tuesday.

Jim Ostlind, of Salcha, said he intends to gather enough signatures 
to get a question on the local ballot asking the voters to stop 
marijuana commercialization.

Under state law, communities have the option to ban marijuana 
commerce. The City Council in Delta Junction approved a ban on 
commercial marijuana in February.

If Ostlind's application is approved, he will have until July 8 to 
gather a minimum of 2,570 signatures to get a question on the Oct. 4 
municipal ballot.

"I do honestly believe that a marijuana industry is not good for 
Fairbanks," he said. "I do believe a lot of people in this town feel 
the way that I do.

"The people have the right to choose what kind of community they want 
to live in," he said.

Ostlind said his group, Drug-Free Fairbanks, has a handful of members 
and more people are being recruited.

A meeting is planned for 6 p.m. June 8 at the Noel Wien Public 
Library Auditorium. For information, call 378-8229 or email Ostlind said many people voted for the 2014 statewide ballot measure 
decriminalizing marijuana because they didn't think people should be 
put in jail for using marijuana. They don't necessarily embrace 
marijuana commercialization, he said.

"Now we are going to have stores all over town," Ostlind said. "We 
are going to have it growing all over town. We are going to have all 
of these businesses as if it is just an ordinary thing like going out 
and getting a six pack of beer.

Pot shop against River Mall rules

The River Mall Condominium Association met last week after learning 
of Buik Hong's plans to expand his smoke shop, Andy's Smoking, to 
sell marijuana.

The River Mall is located on the east end of College Road.

Philip Clark, president of the condo association, said one of the 
covenants of the association states that all businesses must comply 
with local, state and federal laws.

"It says no illegal activity," Clark said.

That means the rules prohibit marijuana from being sold from the 
strip mall because pot remains illegal under federal law, Clark said.

The association additionally passed a resolution objecting to "the 
marijuana trade being pursued in the River Mall," according to Clark.

Hong's lawyer, Van Lawrence, an elected official on the Borough 
Assembly, said he attended the condo association meeting and the 
concerns brought up by other owners in the strip mall dealt with 
traffic and parking.

"They are afraid that it will bring in a much higher number of 
customers than the parking lot can handle, and therefore will exclude 
customers of other businesses. That is their primary concern," 
Lawrence said. "My client is looking at ways to address the concerns 
of the association."

Hong has been issued a zoning permit by the borough to expand his 
business to pot. He has yet to apply for a state license.

All of the land use permits that have been issued by the borough are 
contingent on the state granting licenses for the businesses.

The state Marijuana Control Board is expected to begin issuing 
licenses for cultivation facilities on June 9.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom