Process to write Nevada County cannabis ordinance nears completion
Public comments about cannabis range from carbon dioxide enrichment to odor control.
Forty-two such comments were submitted in advance of Nevada County’s draft environmental impact report — a document needed for the passage of a permanent cannabis cultivation ordinance.
That draft report, which took months to prepare, is now available for review. A series of meetings, along with another public comment period, will occur over the next several weeks. The process is expected to culminate in an April meeting of the Board of Supervisors, which will vote on approving both the environmental report and a new grow ordinance.
If approved, it’ll close a chapter on marijuana cultivation that began with the June 2016 failure of Measure W.
“We remain vigilant on the timeline as the highest priority is to ensure cultivators have the ability to process their local and state applications in time for the 2019 growing season,” said Diana Gamzon, executive director of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance, in an email. “State license processing must start as early as February as it may take three to six months for the state to move through applications.”
People can submit public comment about the draft report until 5 p.m. Feb. 25. Those comments will be included in the final report.
“In reviewing a draft EIR, readers should focus on the sufficiency of the document in identifying and analyzing the possible impacts on the environment and on ways in which the significant effects of the project might be avoided or mitigated,” the draft report states.
Officials repeatedly have emphasized that the public would get many opportunities to speak publicly about the process to write a new cultivation ordinance.
The county’s Planning Commission will meet Feb. 7 to hear comments about the environmental impact report.
“They won’t be discussing anything,” said Alison Barratt-Green, county counsel, of the commissioners. “They won’t be acting on anything.”
Sean Powers, director of the county’s Community Development Agency, asked that meeting attendees focus their comments on the report.
The Planning Commission will meet again March 21. A public hearing at this meeting will focus on both the environmental report and the grow ordinance. Commissioners will then make a recommendation to supervisors about both.
Supervisors would follow with a public hearing on the issues at an April meeting. It could then vote on both. If approved, the ordinance would become effective in 30 days, Barratt-Green said.
The issue of cannabis, simmering for years with occasional flare-ups, exploded in January 2016 when Sheriff Keith Royal proposed a complete outdoor grow ban.
Supervisors approved the ban and put the issue on the June 2016 ballot. The measure failed, forcing supervisors to start the process of writing new grow rules.
A handful of meetings between officials and advocates of the cannabis industry led to the creation of a community advisory group. That group, composed of a cross-section of Nevada County residents, met over several months and developed recommendations for the grow ordinance.
Supervisors used those recommendations when they told county staff what they wanted to include in the new ordinance.
A determination that an environmental impact report was needed extended the timeline for the ordinance’s completion. The draft report’s completion now puts a vote by supervisors about three months away.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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