Court grants injunction against county in dispute over medical marijuana operation

A district court judge has granted an injunction against Cascade County in relation to a medical marijuana operation in an agricultural zoning district.

In August, Dale and Janelle Yatsko, doing business as Green Creek Dispensary, filed a civil lawsuit against the county arguing that they had been operating their medical marijuana growing facility and dispensary at 55 and 57 Gibson Flat Road since early 2016 with the county’s knowledge and consent.

County approves intent to change zoning for recreational marijuana

The Yatskos lease the property and in 2015 it was zoned as commercial, where medical marijuana was not allowed under the county zoning regulations at the time, according to their complaint.

In their complaint, the Yatsko said that the property was too small to be rezoned to agricultural so the property owner, Sandra Dickman, purchased adjoining acreage to bring the total of the property to more than 20 acres to have it rezoned to agricultural.

County Commission to consider proposed zoning changes for recreational marijuana

The Yatskos argue in their suit that the county was aware of the intended use of the property when it granted the rezone request.

In a Nov. 5 order from Judge Amy Eddy granting the injunction, she wrote that the Yatskos had asked to rezone the property from suburban residential to agricultural in 2017 and the County Commission approved the rezone in June 2017.

County planning board votes to recommend zoning changes for recreational marijuana

County zoning regulations and state laws related to medical marijuana changed several times over the years that the Yatskos have been operating on what is zoning agricultural land, but according to county zoning regulations since 2018, medical marijuana dispensaries have only been allowed in I-2 heavy industrial districts, though medical marijuana providers were allowed in agricultural districts, according to documents given to the court and cited in Eddy’s order.

County considering zoning changes for recreational marijuana

According to Eddy’s order, when the Dickmans, the property owners, submitted their rezone application, it “was silent as to the Yatskos use of the leased premises” and that the “Dickmans represented they were going to continue to use the property for haying and wished the zoning to reflect their use of the property so they would be able to take advantage of associated tax benefits.”

At that time, according to Eddy’s order, the Yatskos were licensed with the state as medical marijuana providers.

County denies expansion of medical marijuana into more zoning districts

Eddy’s order also states that the Yatskos were communicating in 2016 with Sandor Hopkins and she writes that he was the interim director of county planning at the time. Susan Conell was the planning division administration from 2010 to her retirement in November 2016, according to county documents readily available online.

Hopkins did not begin working at the county planning office until September 2017 and was not named interim director until June 2019.

Charity Yonker was named director in March of 2020 and Hopkins left the county in June 2021.

County planning board finds growth policy adequate; asks for zoning, medical marijuana amendments

In October 2021, the county planning department issued a notice of violation of county zoning regulations to the Yatskos with an order to cease and desist all marijuana operations on the property, according to Eddy’s order.

The state has given them until July 2022 to come into compliance with county zoning regulations or risk losing their license, according to court documents.

Eddy granted the Yatskos injunction to maintain the status quo of their marijuana operation while the case is further litigated, specifically whether the Yatskos operation should be grandfathered under the new regulations, which the Yatskos argue should happen, while the county argues they were not an allowable use before the regulations change and should not be grandfathered.