Nevada County supervisors hire cannabis consultant to write environmental report | SierraSun.com

Nevada County supervisors hire cannabis consultant to write environmental report

The author of an environmental report for Nevada County's cannabis ordinance won't look at residential agricultural zones despite the wishes of cultivation advocates.

The exclusion of residential agricultural zones in the ordinance has remained a sticking point among supporters of a legal cannabis marketplace. Diana Gamzon, executive director of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance, asked the Nevada County Board of Supervisors at their Tuesday meeting to study residential agricultural zones as part of an environmental impact report.

Supervisors moments later approved a $255,985 contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. to complete the environmental report — a document county officials say is essential for the grow ordinance's passage. Supervisors declined to include residential agricultural zones, though they indicated they could be included in the future.

"The Alliance members who wish to comply but live in Res Ag zones have been cut out of this economic opportunity without full consideration," Gamzon said. "Today we have the opportunity to address this premature exclusion of Res Ag farmers."

Gamzon also requested including license types like manufacturing in the environmental report. Supervisor Ed Scofield said cultivation is the focus.

Supervisor Heidi Hall also supports examining some residential agricultural parcels in the report.

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"That would require some of my colleagues to join me in that opinion," she added.

Lee French — who served on the county's community advisory group, which created recommendations for the new ordinance — advised against allowing grows in residential agricultural zones.

French said including the zone in the environmental report would add more work for county staff. Additionally, allowing grows in the zones would impact his community of Alta Sierra.

"We've gone through this RA thing so much," French said.

Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., chosen to write the environmental report, has offices across the country, including in California. It was one of five applicants who submitted proposals for the contract. The cost cited by the applicants ranged from $170,000 to $349,000.

Brian Foss, the county's head planner, said two of those companies would take until April and July 2019, respectively, to complete the process. The other three, including Kimley-Horn, indicated a March 2019 end date. However, the other two applicants didn't include the time needed for the county's Planning Commission to examine the ordinance, which would extend the deadline.

"It was the quickest time frame proposed," Foss said of Kimley-Horn.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.