September 27, 2016
The Port of Grays Harbor Special Commission Meeting on September 27, 2016 was called to order at 9:00 a.m.
Mary Nelson, Director of Finance and Administration, led the meeting in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Those in attendance at the meeting were as follows:
COMMISSION AND STAFF
Chuck Caldwell - Commissioner
Stan Pinnick - Commissioner
Jack Thompson - Commissioner
Arthur Blauvelt - Legal Counsel
Gary Nelson - Executive Director
Mary Nelson - Director of Finance & Administration
Leonard Barnes - Deputy Executive Director
Randy Lewis - Director of Environmental & Engineering Services
Robin Leraas - Westport Marina Manager
Alissa Shay - Manager of Business Development
Seth Taylor - Marine Terminals Manager
Marisa Yauch - Executive Administrative Assistant
Kayla Dunlap - Public Affairs Manager
Ross Read - Operations Manager
Arnie Martin - GHAS
Rebecca Chaffee - Port of Willapa Harbor
Items discussed and action taken where required is as follows:
Alissa Shay introduced Rebecca Chaffee of the Port of Willapa Harbor. The Port of Willapa has been managing marijuana growers for over a year and Ms. Chaffee came to the meeting to report on the experience they have had with this new industry in their community and on their Port property.
A few months after marijuana became legal in Washington State the Port of Willapa Harbor was approached for space of a new company to grow plants. This was new territory for the Port so they got involved asking the county and city representatives for help with zoning and other issues that may arise. They were prepared for community push back, but were met mostly with acceptance for the industry that was just beginning.
Since the initial lease, Port of Willapa now has 15 buildings leased for this purpose. They have experienced direct benefits through the rent incurred for the Port. These operations have added about 130 new jobs to this small community and the forecast shows potential for this to double in the next 5 years. These companies have put a lot of money into some otherwise deteriorating buildings and they feel this is a positive thing for their community. It has brought young people to the area in need of housing and other commodities increasing their economy.
A risk that they do worry about is the fact that this is a new industry and laws could continue to change. If this were to be federally approved it could push these small businesses out and all of those jobs could be lost. Another issue of concern at the beginning of these leases was the matter of security. People in the community were worried about increased crime, but they have seen no effects of this.
The community is embracing the added commerce. They have started a Cannabiz Journal highlighting the business side of the industry. Port of Willapa also has two retail stores on their property; they have not had issues out of the ordinary with these businesses. Employees are making fair wages at $15.00 entry level, and on up from there for more specialized positions.
Ms. Shay spoke of the proposal to amend the current lease policy with regard to the cultivation and processing of marijuana at the Port of Grays Harbor and specifically at Satsop Business Park.
Commissioner Caldwell asked if there was a possibility of having a retail store located at Satsop Business Park. Ms. Shay stated that retail sales are not permitted by the county for SBP at this time. Zoning of the property would need to change if this were to be permitted in the future.
Arnie Martin asked about wastewater issues for a growing operation. Ms. Shay stated that this has not been an issue for previous operations and they do not anticipate any issues coming up with regards to wastewater from the plants.
Motion to adopt Resolution 2909: A Resolution of the Commissioners of the Port of Grays Harbor Amending its Lease Policy to Permit the Lease of Port Property within Satsop Business Park for the Cultivation and Processing of Marijuana (Cannabis), was made by Commissioner Caldwell and seconded by Commissioner Pinnick. Motion passed unanimously with a vote of 3-0. Resolution Adopted.
The Special Meeting adjourned at 9:25 a.m.