Kachemak City rejects local option pot ban vote

With a citizen group seeking an initiative to ban by vote commercial cannabis in the city of Homer, Kachemak City, the government to the north and east of Homer, won’t put a similar question to the voters. In a 5-2 vote, the Kachemak City Council rejected an ordinance that would have called an election, said city clerk Helen Schoepke.

Unlike Homer City Council meetings, where dozens of people testified in meetings that ran past 11 p.m., only one person came to recent Kachemak City meetings to speak about marijuana.

“We feel like people either feel like it isn’t going to happen out here or they don’t care,” Schoepke said.

Kachemak City also hasn’t imposed a moratorium on commercial cannabis. That means cultivation, manufacturing, testing and sale of cannabis can proceed in the city, and any potential cannabis businesses can apply for licenses.

Kachemak City Mayor Bill Overway said he doesn’t think Kachemak City is conducive to some commercial cannabis operations. The city isn’t hooked up to municipal water, and people either have to drill wells or have water hauled in. He also said application fees of $1,000, annual license fees of $5,000, and requirements like fencing, lighting and security will make commercial cannabis expensive.

“It’s gong to be quite an investment,” he said.

Schoepke said that as the city understands state regulations, Kachemak City will have a chance to review any applications made in its area. She also noted that the Kenai Peninsula Borough has local option zoning, which means a neighborhood can petition the borough to restrict activities in an area within the city.

Kachemak City is willing to let the state take the lead on any changes needed to marijuana regulations, Overway said.

“There’s just going to be a whole lot of growing pains. I think we’re holding back and see what happens before we make any hardcore decision,” he said. “Believe me, we’re keeping an eye on it.”

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.