Nevada City Planning Commission gives go-ahead to cannabis business expansions
Once facing criminal charges relating to an illegal honey oil lab, the saga of Maxwell Gladish and Laurel Durland underscores the difficulties many California cannabis business owners face in navigating the brand-new legal market.
Last fall, the couple, principals in manufacturing firm Highest Health Collective Enterprises, had already received the OK from the Nevada City Planning Commission to locate that business at 596 Searls Ave., and were looking to expand with distribution under the name Nevada City Trading Company.
But the distribution application and the status of the manufacturing permit were thrown into a six-month-long limbo after the Nevada County Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force served a search warrant on a property on Tracy Drive and reportedly found items linked to Highest Health Collective Enterprises at the site.
In March, the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office announced no charges would be filed in the case, clearing the way for Gladish and Durland to move forward. And on April 25, the planning commission unanimously approved both the re-authorization of Highest Health Collective and the permit for Nevada City Trading Company.
“We are so pleased,” Durland said Tuesday. “This is not only a victory for us, but for those that are working so hard to step into the regulated cannabis industry. Nevada City is our home and we look forward to working closely with our community as we strive to run a business we can all be proud of.”
During the hearing, City Planner Amy Wolfson told commissioners the Nevada City Police Department had issued a memo on the “unusual” situation, outlining the investigation. According to the staff report, the police department continued to have concerns about issuing permits to the applicants.
Wolfson noted Highest Health Collective had received authorization back in July, but added she wanted to include two new conditions to ensure the adequate training of all employees and a plan for waste disposal.
“This would be a re-authorization, unless you find a health and safety concern,” Wolfson said.
Audience members spoke in support of Gladish and Durland, highlighting their professionalism.
“They have been very concerned about the legitimacy of their business and how that relates to state and local jurisdictions,” said Richard Baker of Siteline Architecture, who has been working with the applicants. “They have been very concerned, beyond code (requirements), relating to the safety of surrounding properties.”
The planning commissioners approved the re-authorization with the addition of the two requirements outlined by Wolfson, with commissioner David Bohegian noting, “It sounds like there was a little glitch and that has been resolved. There is nothing I see that would keep me from approving this.”
The approval of Nevada City Distribution Company, which will be located at 138 New Mohawk Road, also was unanimous, although an ongoing parking issue drew some flak from planning commissioner Stuart Lauters.
Durland told commissioners it is common for cannabis businesses to have a distribution arm, adding that it is difficult to outsource the storage and transportation of product. She estimated they will be making one to two trips a day at the high end and are allotted one parking space.
Lauters noted he has been asking for a coordinated parking plan for the cannabis businesses at New Mohawk Road for a year, adding, “No one has come to bat. I’m really kind of disappointed.”
Lauters said he would not penalize Nevada City Distribution Co., but indicated he was not willing to approve any new businesses in the space if the situation is not resolved.
“I don’t want you to suffer, but somebody is not doing what needs to happen,” he said. “I think we’ve got a problem.”
Wolfson agreed that coordination of parking, waste disposal and security have all been issues the city asked the building tenants and owner to work on. She suggested making a resolution of the parking issues a condition of approval for the renewal of permits, which would give applicants a year to find a solution.
At the same hearing, the planning commission also approved the expansion of testing lab The Higher Commitment. Applications for two new manufacturing companies were postponed.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at email@example.com.
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