A dispute over a piece of City of Bethel property near the Long House Hotel may be coming to an end. On Oct. 29, Bethel City Council voted to introduce the sale of the land at 718 3rd Avenue to a marijuana retail store, Kusko Kush, owned by Jared Karr and Naim Shabani.
The city’s relationship with Kusko Kush began April 23, when the city leased the property to them. Acting City Manager Bill Howell signed an addendum to the lease on May 28 acknowledging the business’ intent to operate a marijuana retail store.
Three months later, on Aug. 28, the city backed out of the deal. Howell wrote a letter to Karr saying that Kusko Kush would not be allowed to run a marijuana store on city property. Mayor Perry Barr said that since marijuana is federally illegal, the city does not want its property used to violate federal law.
“Maybe we wouldn’t be eligible for federal funding,” Barr explained.
But Kusko Kush Owner Jared Karr says that based on the earlier agreement with the city, he had already spent thousands of dollars on the store.
“On architects, lawyers, contractors, licensing fees,” Karr said.
Karr gave the city three options: continue to lease the property, sell it, or pay damages of over $16 million: their estimated profits of a marijuana store over a 15-year period.
In order to avoid a potential lawsuit, the city council introduced an ordinance to sell the property on 3rd Avenue at fair market value. The exact dollar amount is not yet public information. City council will make a final decision on the sale at the next council meeting.
Several weeks ago, the council voted to protest the store. Mayor Perry Barr says that protest will be withdrawn. Kusko Kush also has to obtain a conditional use permit. Owner Jared Karr says that they have already applied for the permit.