Teamwork: Working toward Cannabis Regulation
March 17, 2017
By Hank Weston, Supervisor, District IV
As many of you may be aware, the regulation of marijuana, also referred to as cannabis, is a controversial issue here in Nevada County, with both proponents for and opponents against marijuana-related activities. To provide some background on the issue, Nevada County first adopted Ordinance 2349 in 2012 regarding the regulation of medical marijuana cultivation. Four years later, in January 2016, an Urgency Ordinance 2405 was adopted in response to increasing constituent complaints and new state legislation that effectively banned outdoor grow operations of cannabis. In addition to the adoption of Ordinance No. 2405, the Board of Supervisors passed Resolution No. 16-038 seeking to place provisions related to the outdoor cultivation ban on the June 2016 ballot (Measure W). To clarify the Board's intention in the event Measure W failed, the Board of Supervisors passed Resolution 16-082 in February 2016. By passing this Resolution, the Board committed to repeal the outdoor cultivation ban and implement alternative cultivation regulations at the next available meeting after the results of the election were certified. Subsequently, on June 7, 2016, Measure W failed to pass.
To honor the Board's commitment to repeal the outdoor ban and implement alternative cultivation regulations as soon as possible, the Board adopted an interim ordinance, Ordinance 2416, on July 27, 2016 after consultation with its marijuana subcommittee and applicable stakeholders, with the intent that the Board and staff would work to develop a more comprehensive permanent ordinance based on input and discussion with all applicable stakeholder interests. The current ordinance allows for limited indoor and outdoor cultivation in rural and agricultural zones. Subsequently, on November 8, 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64, the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (commonly referred to as "AUMA") allowing adults 21 years of age or older to legally cultivate, possess and use marijuana for nonmedical purposes, with certain restrictions.
Therefore, to address the community's concerns over the issue and to address the new legal landscape regarding cannabis regulation, the Board has established a Marijuana Subcommittee to provide recommendations for a permanent ordinance. District V Supervisor, Richard Anderson, and I sit on the Marijuana Subcommittee. We recognize that cannabis and its regulation is a very contentious issue and seek to gain input from applicable stakeholders in the most productive and effective manner possible through an advisory group that includes various stakeholders. To ensure that the process by which stakeholder input is obtained is as efficient and effective as possible, the County released a Request for Proposal (RFP) on December 16, 2016 seeking consulting and facilitation services for the advisory group. Out of that RFP, the County received 16 proposals, of which 5 finalists were interviewed. After ranking all of the RFPs, the County selected MIG, Inc. as its top choice.
MIG, Inc. is a multidisciplinary firm with over 200 staff that provides services in the interconnected disciplines of community planning, public engagement, facilitation, interagency collaboration, environmental resources planning, and communication. The areas of expertise that MIG, Inc. offers is wide reaching; from facilitation and consensus building, to community engagement and outreach, to zoning and development codes, to community and regional planning. The firm has an impressive list of successful projects that contain complex and controversial issues as they relate to planning, community outreach, and land use. MIG, Inc. will be assisting the County with forming the Advisory Group, administering and facilitating the Advisory Group, acting as a liaison between the public, the County departments, the Advisory Group and Board of Supervisors and documenting the results to inform and provide recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on a permanent ordinance. Currently, the County is in negotiations with MIG, Inc. to finalize a contract and its scope of work. I believe MIG, Inc. will greatly help with developing an ordinance that in large part meets the concerns and needs over cannabis in Nevada County.
In other important news, the Penn Valley Pipeline Construction Project continues to move forward. In early March, construction was done on Pleasant Valley Road near Gate 1 of Lake Wildwood. Moving forward, the controlled traffic will continue down Pleasant Valley Road until the in-road portion of the pipeline construction reaches the Lake Wildwood Wastewater Treatment Plant. Two-way traffic will be kept open when possible to reduce impacts, but residents should prepare for delays.
Last but not least, Nevada County Planning Department is currently reviewing an application to expand Wildwood Self Storage, LLC for a Lot Line Adjustment and Use Permit to allow a 22,900 square foot expansion of the existing self-storage facility. The proposal would include six new mini storage buildings off Pleasant Valley Road about ¼ miles north of Highway 20 and would allow some outdoor storage area. The Planning Department is currently reviewing a second submittal after requesting some minor changes to the proposal including additional landscaping screening along Pleasant Valley Road. The Planning Department will be reviewing the proposal over the next several months before preparing an environmental document for public comment.
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