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Odor prompts College Place leaders to consider halting hemp production

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CP hemp plant

A flowering hemp plant growing in a field alongside Larch Avenue in College Place in August.

COLLEGE PLACE — City leaders received numerous complaints this year about the smell of industrial hemp growing on a licensed farm on Larch Avenue, and it’s prompted them to consider pulling the reins on this new type of agricultural endeavor.

At its regular meeting Tuesday night, College Place City Council will decide whether to adopt a moratorium on accepting applications, issuing permits and allowing operation of facilities associated with the growing of industrial hemp.

The idea is that staff will do further research on whether commercial agricultural production of hemp is an appropriate land use in residential zones and how best to implement the state laws governing industrial hemp, according to the meeting agenda.

“This would be a temporary moratorium while the Planning Commission evaluates what to do about it,” City Administrator Mike Rizzitiello told the U-B this morning.

The city will conduct a public hearing within 60 days of adopting this moratorium, according to the staff report.

In June, the Washington State Department of Agriculture issued an industrial hemp grower license to Mathew Hardy to grow industrial hemp at 221 NE Larch Ave. in College Place.

Currently no one growing industrial hemp in the city, Rizzitiello said this morning, since the one grower has left. But staff would still like to have a game plan if this issue were to come up in the future, he said.

The Washington state legislature has authorized the growing of industrial hemp as part of an agricultural pilot program as part of the Agricultural Act of 2014.

But the city has a responsibility to protect the public health, safety, and welfare, the meeting documents stated.

“We found out about it (the new law) when people were complaining to us about odor,” Rizzitiello said.

City Council would conduct a public hearing within 60 days of the adoption of this moratorium as required by RCW 36.70A.390, according to the notes, and has prepared a work program so that the moratorium may be in effect for up to one year.