Two new pot businesses approved in Nevada City | TheUnion.com

Two new pot businesses approved in Nevada City

Brothers Joe and Kevin Bundy were given the green light Thursday to operate one of Nevada City's first medical cannabis businesses.

The city's Planning Commission approved the Bundys' application for a manufacturing business, the Searls Group, at 569 Searls Avenue.

Planning commissioners also approved a second manufacturing business, Floracy, at 75 Bost Avenue.

The Searls Group facility, which plans to produce cannabis oil, vaporizer pens, beverages and edibles, will share an address with Elevation 2477', a dispensary approved for a permit at the location late last year.

“Do we really want to turn Nevada City into pot city? I don’t think so.”

— Tom Newmark, business owner on Searls Avenue

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Daniel Batchelor, Elevation's chief executive officer, told The Union in September the dispensary planned to help facilitate Nevada City's first "cannabis campus."

Batchelor on Thursday said the Searls Group will operate in one of four separate units at the Searls Avenue property, which is owned by an investment company he helped establish.

Batchelor said the investment company expects other medical cannabis business tenants will occupy at least one other available unit on the property, though no other businesses have yet applied with the city for a permit at that location.

Planning Commissioner Jason Rainey, who is president of the board of directors for Growing Community, a group which applied for Nevada City's only medical cannabis dispensary license but wasn't chosen by the City Council from a pool of three candidates, abstained from voting on the Searls Group's proposal.

Prior to discussing the Searls Group's application, Rainey told Planning Commissioners he wouldn't recuse himself from speaking or voting on the topic, noting he'd sought advice from the California Fair Political Practices Commission on whether it would be appropriate for him to weigh in on medical cannabis businesses in Nevada City considering his involvement locally in the industry.

Rainey said representatives from the Political Practices Commission advised him he wouldn't need to recuse himself because he wasn't a paid employee of Growing Community.

During the Planning Commission's review of the Searls Group's application, Rainey raised concerns over the concentration of cannabis businesses in Nevada City's 7 Hills Business District.

Some community members also expressed concerns about clustering cannabis businesses in a small area.

"Do we really want to turn Nevada City into pot city?" asked Tom Newmark, who owns a business on Searls Avenue. "I don't think so."

Commissioner Dan Thiem told Rainey it wasn't the Planning Commission's job to determine whether cannabis businesses should be allowed to operate on a correctly-zoned parcel if they met the city's requirements. Thiem said the Planning Commission and City Council discussed that issue last year, prior to Rainey joining the commission, and ultimately decided to pass an ordinance allowing medical cannabis businesses.

Floracy, led by founder Harry Bennett, plans to produce cannabis extracts. The business was also approved for a limited distribution permit, which allows its employees to transport its own manufactured products to licensed facilities.

The planning commissioners, including Rainey, voted 4-0 in favor of Floracy's proposal.

Floracy, the Searls Group and Elevation 2477' are the first three medical cannabis businesses approved for operation in Nevada City.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.