The Kodiak Island Borough Marijuana Task Force talked buffer zones at its meeting last week.
According to state law, establishments must be 500 feet away from schools, buildings where religious services are held, youth and recreation centers, and correctional facilities.
The assistant superintendent of the Kodiak Island Borough School District, Marilyn Davidson, gave input on the buffer zone decision during public comment.
“We would encourage the committee to support the idea of the shortest pedestrian route of being the establishment of that radius and moving 500 feet beyond that radius, and we know that this is the decision of the community and this committee, and we are advocating for the safety and well-being of the students in all the communities on our island.”
The state law currently measures the distance of the buffer zone by the shortest pedestrian route from the public entrance of the business to the outer boundaries of the school, church, or jail.
Task Force Co-Chair Dan Rohrer touched on one issue communities have faced across the state, which is determining what the law means by “pedestrian route.”
“The state has an application process and during that application process, the state checks it and the applicant has to prove that they meet this state statute, so the state on some level is interpreting that pedestrian route, pathway, walkway, whatever it is, and, honestly. they are finding that they didn’t do a good enough job defining that.”
The term “pedestrian route” proves confusing in part because a client can reach the business in a variety of ways. Jaywalking might make the difference between 500 feet and less. Or more.
Rohrer said the task force should abide by the state law and allow the state to work out those kinks. That way, the task-force isn’t charged with defining or re-stating that term.
The task-force decided to comply with state law and settled on a buffer zone of 500 feet.