Impending recreational pot business in Island County off to a hazy start

Mark Calim

The recreational marijuana business is getting off to a rocky start on North Whidbey.

Mark Calim, the owner of Mark’s Auto Repair on Goldie Road, said he and two fellow businesses are effectively being kicked out to make way for pot-related businesses. And they aren’t happy about it.

Four marijuana-related businesses, including two in the Oak Harbor area, have made it through the state licensing process for retail pot stores so far. But neither of the proposed Oak Harbor businesses appear to be located in areas that conform to the city and county’s new marijuana zoning regulations, which will likely doom the ventures.

As a result, the future of the pot industry in Oak Harbor remains an unknown.

Calim said he received a certified letter this week advising him that his rent would be increasing by more than 300 percent and he had to sign a two-year lease, or get out in 30 days.

Soon afterward, the new owners of the property stopped by and told Calim’s employee that they planned to turn their building and a number of adjacent structures into marijuana-related businesses.

For Calim, the situation is especially galling because he helps so many people in the community from his shop. He sometimes fixes cars for free, allows people to pay him when they can and generally helps people out of jams.

The marijuana business, by comparison, seems like a fly-by-night venture.

“I don’t see how anything good can come from it,” he said.

Documents obtained by the South Whidbey Record through a public records request show that Scott and Christina Hensrude of Woodinville applied to open a retail pot shop at 3171 North Goldie Road under the name Herbs and Buds, LLC.

The Hensrudes purchased the property as well as adjacent structures under the name 3143-3171 North Goldie LLC. They could not be reached for comment.

One of the businesses, if approved, would go in the former sports bar on Goldie Road, which is just in front of Calim’s repair shop.

But the approval doesn’t seem forthcoming. David Wechner, the Island County planning director, said the property appears to be zoned “Oak Harbor industrial.” The recently approved county regulations governing recreational marijuana don’t allow retail pot shops in that zoning.

The rules governing medical marijuana, however, are a different ball of wax, as those types of businesses already exist in the county and are governed by different rules. State lawmakers are working to combine recreational and medical pot rules.

In addition, William Widner of Kirkland applied, under the name W&L Holding, for a license through the state for a recreational marijuana retail shop at 788 Northeast Midway Blvd.

But again, city Development Services Director Steve Powers said the new city pot ordinance doesn’t allow pot shops in that area, which is zoned “C-3.”