Neighbors plan to protest pot farm in Shelton

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by ALISON MORROW / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @AlisonMorrowTV

KING5.com

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 6:24 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 19 at 6:24 PM

SHELTON, Wash. -- Dozens of Shelton neighbors are enraged about their new neighbor.

They thought their street was getting a vegetable farm, but they just found out the plants aren’t the grocery store kind.

“Organic gardening, that’s what he told us,” Dave Vimont said.

“We thought we were going to buy tomatoes and cucumbers all year long,” his wife, Barbara, added.
Turns out, the greenhouse under construction on SE Sells Drive is one of Washington’s first 502 marijuana farms.

The neighbors who live around it are furious that Mason County Commissioners approved the facility without ever giving them the chance to comment.

 “We have been betrayed by our government,” Jim McElroy said. “We’ve been betrayed by these people!"

Forbidden Farms will have 21,000 square feet of canopy space.

The street where it’s located is named after the man who settled the land – Nick Sells great grandfather.

“He would go ballistic,” he said.

Nick’s pregnant wife already is.

“There is no way I’m going to continue to live out here with a pot farm,” she said. “We’re kind of a guinea pig for it and we can’t afford to be the guinea pig.”

She and dozens more worry about crime near their homes and the school bus stop, along with increased noise and fertilizer run off into the fragile shellfish ecosystem.

“My kids are already asking, ‘When are the bad guys going to come?’” Kathy Gerchak said.

To get the word out, neighbors are passing out fliers to rally neighbors in protest that read, “NOT IN OUR BACKYARD!”

“The neighbors have been misled or are relying on bad information,” explained Forbidden Farms Attorney Jay Berneburg.

Berneburg believes no one will even know anything’s changed.

Forbidden Farms will operate entirely in doors, and follow tight security protocol with high fences and cameras. They also claim their employees will only number a handful and they’ll filter any used water they dump.

“After this facility is there for a month, two months, six months, they’ll realize they were wrong, that there was nothing to worry about, nothing to fear,” Berneburg said.

But with tall fences going up just yards away, the neighbors plan to protest at the Mason County Commission meeting on Tuesday at 6pm.

 Initiative 502 was supposed to be about choice, they say.

 “But now we don’t get to choose,” Nicole Sells said. “I’m subjected to their lifestyle and my choice has been taken from me.”
 

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