“It’s almost obscene, the restrictions put on this industry,” Nevada County Board of Supervisor Chairman Ed Scofield said Tuesday regarding a revision to the county’s commercial cannabis cultivation ordinance. “I’d like to see this ordinance get approved.”
The revision of the ordinance required an amendment to the county’s Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) and development zoning regulation regarding commercial cannabis cultivation.
The amendments were adopted by the board Tuesday with changes to the report and ordinance that “will allow a more consistent and smooth process for cannabis cultivation licensing,” according to the presentation given by Brian Foss, Nevada County planning director.
The FEIR and ordinance amendment were adopted on the contingency that four issues would be examined deeper at an upcoming workshop. The first two are changes in the language in the ordinance. The use of mixed light in canopy grows was amended with a cap on the square footage of the indoor and outdoor areas.
The second change is regarding the retail sales in storefronts to a maximum of 1,000 square feet in microbusiness, similar to a winery. The use of operations, explaining how a microbusiness would be utilized, would be defined on the application process and “that would be evaluated through the use of permit process,” Foss said.
“If we approve the concept and work through the details later, I would support it,” Supervisor Heidi Hall said. “I want to treat them as any other agricultural business.”
Also, Supervisor Sue Hoek requested clarification on the setback requirements for new projects on the land. However, Foss clarified that setbacks are “only required in expanded areas and do not apply to the exhibiting structures. It is not retroactive.”
Hoek wanted more discussion about a language that would ensure that an applicant of a new or renewed license would have to “be in good standing” as far as taxes and other responsibilities of the land owner are concerned.
Finally, Scofield wanted more discussion of the possibility of “exclusionary zones” where cannabis cultivation or processing would not be allowed.
“Do not allow them to sell directly from their properties,” Debbie Porter, president of the Golden Oaks Association, said. “We pay for our roads and the extra traffic can be seen here. The support vehicles, workers, the porta potties are problematic.”
Exclusionary zones could include private communities and other areas where neighbors do not want the industry.
“These provisions do not go far enough to protect neighborhoods. It could be a map placed over the county to create exclusionary areas. There are many options that prevent conflict with neighbors.” Barbara Bashall, executive director of the Nevada County Contractors’ Association, said during public comment.
Over 40 public comments were made from many cannabis cultivators such as Eliza Pires, who owns Sanctuary Farms in Penn Valley with her husband. Pires told the board, “This lingering stigma against cannabis farms should not dictate land usage. Many of the misconceptions come from the illegal market. We have to have a product tested for molds and any toxic element, before it can go to sale. This is a clean product.”