Foothills Event Center eyed for cannabis dispensary
Screening of cannabis applicants begins
Grass Valley has started its evaluation of applicants for a variety of cannabis businesses — among them a dispensary proposed at the present location of the Foothills Event Center, at 400 Idaho Maryland Road.
Alanna Haley is the CEO of Sierra Flower Co., which is eyeing the location. She’s also owner of V’TAE Parfum & Body Care.
The Foothills Events Center is being sold to Ag Natural owner Roy Harris, center owner Mardie Caldwell has said. Harris could not be reached for comment.
Haley said she plans to move into the events center, but declined to disclose further details because the deal isn’t finalized.
“Yes, we’re moving into the Foothills Events Center. We have an agreement with Roy (Harris),” she said.
Haley added that she will only use a portion of the center, approximately 3,600 square feet. Sierra Flower has synergy and good relations with Harris, though she has no plans to collaborate on business projects with Ag Natural.
A separate company — Grass Valley Provisions LLC — has proposed to open a dispensary in Ag Natural, across the street from the Foothills Event Center.
Haley said that what attracted her to the events center is that it’s the perfect location and will need minimal work. It also allows her to be operational within six months of receiving state and local licensing. It’s already ADA compliant and has solar panels, while adhering to her company’s intent to be as green as possible.
“From a security standpoint, it’s a great location — set back from the street, is well lit, has security cameras and only two entrances,” said Haley.
What encouraged Haley to get into the cannabis industry was caring for an elderly aunt stricken with cancer. Haley procured THC products to help relieve her pain, with successful results.
“I’ve seen cannabis businesses bring prosperity to the county and we (sister Alissa Hicks as a business partner) want to benefit nonprofits and licensed growers to help them succeed and expand their business, and help consumers access licensed products they have confidence contain pure ingredients,” she said.
Also, Haley’s company is a female-centered business with key roles assumed by women.
“Being women led we can serve as role models to those just entering business,” she said. “Our vision is to view cannabis as a palliative for those who experience painful symptoms. We want to be a wellness center that our community can be proud of.”
In a cover letter to city staff, Haley noted at the heart of her application is the ability to create good paying jobs for locals who envision being part of a fast growing industry that benefits a diverse group of residents.
Grass Valley Provisions LLC plans to move into the Ag Natural premises, across the street from the Foothills Event Center. Cameron Brady said he’s eager to set up at the site.
“I spoke to the owner and conveyed my intention to beautify the building and run my cannabis business from there,” said Brady, one of three Provisions partners.
As Grass Valley Provisions’ chief legal counsel, Brady is a local business attorney who has represented investors in legal matters related to the cannabis industry since 2014.
He said the ownership group will be full-time operators.
“We already have plans in place to transition from current obligations, and scaling back my private practice to commit a majority of time to GVP,” Brady said, adding later: “Every member of the team has a history of serving on community advisory boards, advocating on behalf of local organizations or contributing to in-kind organizations.”
Other dispensary cannabis applicants include Canary and KannaXpress, Inc., which would operate on a delivery basis; Perfect Union, location pending; Grupo Flor, which intends to lease space at 800 S. Auburn St.; Culture Cannabis Club, which also lists 800 S. Auburn St.; and Element 7, which does not have a location yet, according to Abigail Walker, analyst with the city’s Community Development Department.
Any new cannabis business must be located in one of two permitted zones: either M1, near La Bar Meadows and McKnight Way; and the C3 zone along South Auburn Street, Railroad Avenue and the Idaho Maryland Road area.
Thirteen total applications are being screened by city staff.
“It’s to make sure there’s no red flags,” said Tom Last, community development director. “The finance department will review applications to make sure the budget numbers make sense. And the police department will make a review and then turn it over to the committee.”
The selection committee to score and rank the applications was selected by the City Council. The committee is comprised of former Mayor Lisa Swarthout; Marty Lombardi, a director of the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Fund; and Jonathan Collier, a board adviser on the Yuba Village Building Concern and formerly part of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance.
In a public comment call, Diana Gamzon, executive director of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance, said three members is a small number. Her group would like to see Amy Wolfson, who requested to leave the committee, be replaced by a fourth member. However, a five-member committee would be more well rounded.
“We’d like to see what’s the next step, what’s the timeline and what is the revenue brought in by the application process,” she said.
Scoring criteria is based upon numerous aspects, including cannabis knowledge, the ownership team, whether the business provides well paid and high quality jobs, and business experience of the companies’ owners, along with other criteria.
The current staff screening, police and finance review is expected to require 30 days. Once applications are turned over to the committee, it will need 30 to 45 days to score and rank them. Staff will then take a couple of days to notify both successful and unsuccessful applicants.
Other types of cannabis businesses allowed include one delivery operation, which has two applicants; two nurseries, with two applicants; five distribution centers, with two applicants, two testing labs, with no applicants; and 10 manufacturing sites, with no applicants.
Applications closed with the Aug. 12 deadline. However, that could change for categories with no applicants.
“Since there’s currently no applicants and we haven’t reached the limits if somebody applied tomorrow (and passed the review), they could probably succeed in getting permitted,” Last said.
When cannabis businesses open to the public depends whether they elect to construct a new building or go with an existing building.
“If they start with a new building, it’ll take several months longer because of submitting site plans, grading, sewer and water trenches,” he added.
William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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