Nevada County marijuana advisory group discusses zoning, setbacks | SierraSun.com

Nevada County marijuana advisory group discusses zoning, setbacks

The county's community advisory group wrestled on Tuesday, June 27, with zoning and setbacks for cannabis grows, continuing in its mission to develop recommendations for a permanent grow ordinance.

Members of the citizen's panel, meeting for the third time, debated whether Nevada County should allow commercial grows or focus only on personal, medicinal cultivation. They also struggled with growing only for county residents or allowing larger grows that could supply the state.

"We do have to be realistic about what we put out here," Lee French said. "Do we have the supporting structure? Do we have enough water? We have to make the decision of statewide versus local."

Jonathan Collier, a member of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance, noted that the county turned down Measure W, which would have banned outdoor grows and commercial activity. He argued that commercial cannabis must be part of the current conversation.

Pamela Swartz said she wants to know how much cannabis is required to satisfy the county's needs. She suggested the county could limit the number of cultivation permits once it gets that information.

Mark Schaefer, a cannabis alliance member, said the permanent grow ordinance must allow people to have large enough grows, if commercial activity is allowed. Significantly limiting those grows would ensure failure, he said.

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Tom Cross questioned how the county would enforce the ordinance.

"Given the complicity of this, I'm not sure how you're going to ensure compliance," he said.

Sean Powers, director of the county's Community Development Agency, said his office is complaint driven.

Pivoting to a possible residency requirement, several advisory board members supported the move. Swartz said growers should have some time to comply. Collier suggested allowing temporary structures until a permanent one is built.

"I strongly support a residency requirement," Matthew Shapero said.

Forrest Hurd said he could support either side of the residency argument. However, he argued that residency has an apparent contradiction — people don't want the negative impacts of cannabis, but they want growers to have homes on their grows.

Robert Erickson said the support for a residency requirement surprised him, given that some panelists call the existing, temporary ordinance a de facto ban. He suggested that officials require cultivators to give specifics about their grows before awarding permits.

"That would go a long ways toward solving the problem," Erickson said.

Tuesday's discussion was part of a larger effort to craft regulations for the county's permanent grow ordinance. The advisory panel is scheduled to meet eight times, writing its recommendations in its final two meetings. Supervisors have said they want the new ordinance in place by March.