Monday, November 18, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 37
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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 14th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 29 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 29

County delayed cannabis-permit appeal hearings

By Zac Ezzone

It will be almost another two months before the county Planning Commission hears appeals filed over two cannabis cultivation projects. 

The appeals, filed by winemaker Blair Pence over the proposed cannabis projects off Highway 246 in Buellton, had been continued to Sept. 13 from the commission’s Aug. 8 meeting, when despite a nearly nine-hour meeting, commissioners only discussed the Santa Rita Valley Ag Inc. project and didn’t begin to talk about the Santa Barbara West Coast Farms project. 

On Sept. 6, the county announced that the hearings were canceled and rescheduled for Nov. 6.

Commissioners expressed numerous concerns about the first project, as well as the programmatic environmental impact review (PEIR) the county relies on to review cannabis permits. Commissioners didn’t make a decision on the appeal, and moved to continue the hearings on Sept. 13.

Dan Klemann, deputy director of the county’s Long Range Planning Division, said an applicant from at least one of the two cannabis projects requested the hearing delay. Staff also requested more time to work on a presentation Klemann was supposed to give in response to commissioners’ concerns over the county’s PEIR. This presentation was rescheduled for Oct. 2.

Commissioners were concerned that the PEIR doesn’t take into account the size of the cannabis farms being discussed or the concentration of farms in a small area, like the stretch on Highway 246. Klemann said he’s confident the PEIR did take these environmental impacts into consideration, which he will explain during the Oct. 2 presentation.

“The purpose of the presentation is to go into more detail about why we believe the [PEIR] is appropriate,” Klemann said.

Based on Klemann’s understanding, one of the applicants requested the delay to revise their project description in response to some of the concerns raised by the Planning Commission during the Aug. 8 hearing. 

During the meeting, commissioners expressed concern over several aspects of Santa Rita Valley Ag Inc.’s project, including a lack of detail in its lighting plan and how the company would keep the 25 shipping containers it plans to use for processing out of the eyesight of Highway 246 drivers.

In an email to the Sun, John Harris—the applicant listed for the Santa Rita Valley Ag Inc. project—said the hearing was delayed because of staff’s request for more time to work on the PEIR presentation. 

A phone call made to the attorney representing the applicant behind Santa Barbara West Coast Farms wasn’t returned prior to press time.

—Zac Ezzone




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