Nevada County deputies serve first marijuana ordinance abatement warrant
October 31, 2012
Nevada County Sheriff's deputies served the first abatement warrant on a marijuana garden since the county passed its controversial cultivation ordinance in May.
Nearly a half-dozen deputies descended on the 99-plant grow on the corner of Dog Bar Road and Norvin Way Tuesday afternoon after the homeowner's appeal of the citation and notice to abate was denied.
The cultivation ordinance was enacted in May by the county's Board of Supervisors and is intended to regulate legal grows from a nuisance standpoint. The ordinance limits the size of grows depending on zoning, setbacks and plot size and imposes other restrictions, such as security fencing.
Since a Nevada County Superior Court judge refused to block the ordinance in late July, the Narcotics Task Force has ramped up the number of compliance checks and the department added two full-time deputies to the ordinance detail.
By late September, the ordinance detail had made 45 site visits and issued 27 abatement notices and 18 verbal warnings. A number of growers filed appeals, and the county began holding hearings several weeks ago.
According to Sheriff's Sgt. Guy Selleck, the hearing officers began issuing decisions at the end of last week.
The homeowner on Norvin Way, who asked not to be identified, said he received the letter informing him his appeal had been denied in the mail Saturday.
"I got my notice in the evening when I got home," he said.
He added that he did not realize how quickly the abatement would occur, since the citation process gave him five days to file an appeal.
"I thought I had the same amount of time," he said glumly. "I'm not psychic."
The man and his wife both had 99-plant recommendations posted, which is far in excess of Nevada County's limit of six plants per patient.
But the abatement was in response to violations of the county's ordinance in that the grow exceeded the allowable 300 square feet and was visible from a public roadway.
The homeowner also was cited because he had no lock on the gate for the garden, which was fenced with bamboo and partially obscured with black plastic.
Initially, deputies hacked down most of the plants — the homeowner had harvested a handful — but left a 300-square-foot area alone.
But after determining that even those plants could be seen from the roadway, they cut them down as well after consulting with county counsel.
Deputies ended up hauling two full truckloads of marijuana plants away.
"I was trying to get a hold of an attorney to stop the process, but there is no way to stop that process — there's not one set up," the homeowner said Tuesday night.
He said he represented himself at his appeal hearing.
"I think the process itself is weighted toward the county, but that's only natural," he said. "They're in the business of making the law and in the business of enforcing it … Going through the (hearing). There was no (real) process. They were feeling their way through it. No one knows what's going on, and you wind up being on the short end of the stick."
The medical marijuana patient contended in his hearing that because he had chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, he needs to use a salve.
Because it's not very effective, he grows a large amount of marijuana to produce what he needs, he said.
He planted his marijuana long before the ordinance was passed, he said, calling its provisions arbitrary and unfair.
"I was counting on having enough to take care of myself this year," he said. "Now I will have to go outside the county to get it legally."
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4229.
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