Grass Valley could have marijuana ordinance by spring | TheUnion.com
Christopher Rosacker
Staff Writer

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Grass Valley could have marijuana ordinance by spring

AP File Photo

Leaders of Grass Valley's police force are looking to cultivate an ordinance to regulate the growing of marijuana within the town's borders by the spring of 2014, when planting typically begins.

"It is on my to-do list. I'll put something together for City Council's consideration," said Police Chief John Foster. "I don't want to say I am implementing this ordinance. I am creating something for them to review."

Most of the recent talks about marijuana cultivation stem from the unincorporated parts of Nevada County, which are regulated by a county ordinance that was passed in May 2012.

That ordinance is intended to regulate legal grows from a nuisance standpoint; it limits the size of grows depending on zoning, setbacks and plot size and imposes other restrictions, such as security fencing.

“Basically, it comes down a concern from neighbors about health from smelling the odor. … We are looking at the complaints regarding feeling sick or nauseated and not being able to even sleep.”
Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster

"It does not apply at all within the incorporated city limits," said County Counsel Alison Barratt-Green. "(The county's ordinance) only applies in incorporated areas of the county."

The impetus for Grass Valley's ordinance emanates from complaints by growers' neighbors, Foster said.

"Basically, it comes down a concern from neighbors about health from smelling the odor," Foster said. "It is the odor can be so overbearing … We are looking at the complaints regarding feeling sick or nauseated and not being able to even sleep."

Though it is not illegal to grow marijuana in Grass Valley, Foster said guidelines are set through the district attorney's office, which District Attorney Clifford Newell said are based on health and safety codes.

"I can't establish parameters for marijuana grows," Newell said in an email to The Union. "All I can do is have a general guideline that we follow to a greater or lesser extent based on the individual case and circumstances therein."

Though many of Nevada County's marijuana grows occur in county territory, Foster said Grass Valley is not without its share of cultivators.

"There are safety concerns in regard to marijuana thefts or robberies," Foster said.

Adopting the county's ordinance, or one like it, doesn't make sense because lot sizes and setbacks are different in town. Foster said he plans to look more to other cities than the county when crafting Grass Valley's ordinance.

While Foster said he'd like to have the proposal for council consideration before growers begin preparations for the 2014 season, he did note that his current focus is not the ordinance.

With a vacant captain position in his department, Foster said his current priority is creating the process to fill that gap.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.