In their July 15 meeting, the Bethel Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on whether to grant a conditional use permit for a new marijuana store. It will also hold a public hearing to consider changing laws governing bed and breakfasts in Bethel.
The proposed dispensary, called Good Vibes, would sit across the street from the fire department. The store would be co-owned by two men from Bethel: Brian Glasheen and Alex Wasierski. Wasierski sits on the planning commission. City code requires commission members to recuse themselves from participating in discussions in which they have a vested personal financial interest.
In May, the planning commission was slated to hold a public hearing to consider a separate conditional use permit for a proposed marijuana store located in Q2. The commission tabled that public hearing and the applicant, Kalla Peacock, expressed his frustration with the decision. He said that he was the second person in Bethel to apply for a conditional use permit, and still has not received it. He said that he expects to have a public hearing next month.
Bethel has two marijuana stores already, and the owners are against allowing a third store to open, saying that it will be bad for their businesses. The owners sent a joint letter to the planning commission, arguing that just as alcohol stores are limited by population in Alaska, marijuana stores should be as well.
The planning commission will also consider changes to the Bethel Municipal Code that could affect bed and breakfasts. The new code would clarify what a bed and breakfast can mean. Under the new code, a bed and breakfast in a residential zone would have to be a building that the owners use as their primary residence.
The proposed code also says that bed and breakfasts can only have up to three bedrooms. Previously, the code did not specify the number of bedrooms allowed. Recently, KYUK reported that Bethel City Planner Ted Meyer shut down a four-bedroom bed and breakfast. Meyer said that the owners did not have a proper permit for the building. He also shut down the bed and breakfast on the grounds that it was in a residential area. The proposed code would allow bed and breakfasts in residential areas.
Also under the proposed code, bed and breakfast owners would need to apply for a permit from the city and undergo an inspection. Owners would have to write yearly affidavits saying that the building plans have not changed. If owners don’t follow these guidelines, they could lose their licenses and would have to wait up to a year to reapply.
The proposed changes to city code were written by a subcommittee, under the guidance of Meyer and city-contracted engineers. It was also reviewed by the city manager, city clerk, and city attorney. If the planning commission approves the changes in their July 15 meeting, it could recommend that the Bethel City Council adopt the amendments at its Aug. 27 meeting.
Members of the public are invited to speak during both public hearings. The meeting will be held at the ONC multipurpose building. All attendees are required to wear masks and keep 6 feet of distance. You can also attend the meeting over Zoom, using the Meeting ID: 929 6930 4454 and the passcode: 109277. The number to call in by telephone is 1-888-475-4499. The meeting ID and passcode are the same.