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Council discusses amending pot code to protect residential day cares
The Port Orchard city council could amend its recreational marijuana code to keep processors, producers and retailers 1,000 feet away from home-based day cares, just like it does to child-care centers.
That was a topic of discussion by the council at their June 10 meeting. Two of the seven council members — John Clauson and Rob Putaansuu — were absent.
During residents’ comments, Terri Squires, owner of Terri’s Family Day Care, said the Liquor Control Board (LCB) defines child-care center as an entity that regularly provides child care and early learning services for a group of children for periods less than 25 hours and is licensed by the state.
“This is the state’s definition for all child-care services,” said Squires. “Sadly, the term that the Legislature used for a center is the qualm that is being used by the applicants to remove the 1,000-foot buffer.”
Squires said she opened her day care in 1993 and is licensed by the state. She’s open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday for children from birth to age 11, and provides learning processing and early learning services.
Squires asked the city to be “proactive” and that the LCB has stated city and county municipalities do have rights to “strengthen and make their own rules.”
She said a proposed development is 933 feet away her day care and is in the city limits.
Development Director Nick Bond said he was made aware of the situation on Monday and staff prepared a draft ordinance for the council to review.
City Attorney Geg Jacoby said when the council adopted regulation requiring recreational marijuana, it chose to adopt local regulations that match state regulations.
“What has come to light is that state regulations — with respect to day-care providers — is too narrow, but that’s ultimately your decision,” said Jacoby.
Jacoby explained there are two types of license day cares: child-care centers and residential day cares. He said child-care centers, which are addressed in the state regulations are “non-residential” and usually based in churches, a building or as a business.
He said there are many residential day cares, which are described as family, home child-care centers or providers.
Jacoby noted that state and the city’s regulations do not address residential day care.
“The question to ask yourself is if you want to amend your code,” said Jacoby.
He noted the proposed amended ordinance expands the definition of day-care providers that are subject to the 1,000-foot buffer.
Councilman Jeff Cartwright asked that the words “is licensed” be added to the definitions for nursery school and preschool, which the council agreed.
Councilman Jerry Child said he would support the amended ordinance.
“The intent is to not put these growing operations within a 1,000 feet where children gather,” Childs said.
Jacoby said one reason the council adopted the state regulations is because there would be no risk of litigation.
He said if regulations that are more restrictive than the state, the risk of litigation could be higher.
Jacoby said cities should lobby the LCB to revise their regulations and residential day cares.
The ordinance could be presented at the June 24 council meeting.