Grass Valley council moves forward with cannabis businesses

The Grass Valley City Council Tuesday evening voted to approve an ordinance that would allow cannabis businesses in light industrial and heavy commercial zones.

The ordinance will return to the council for a second reading, then will take effect 30 days following adoption.

According to Community Development Director Tom Last, at the second reading staff will provide a process for evaluating applicants and plans for how to implement the ordinance.

The ordinance would allow up to two dispensaries and three delivery services in the city.

“This is something I have been passionate about, seeing the city put some zoning regulation and some authority into allowing cannabis businesses,” Mayor Lisa Swarthout said. “I think the place that we’ve gotten to is not perfect but I’ve always looked at this ordinance as a being a compromise. Nobody was ever going to get 100% of what they wanted.”

Last said with the proposed zoning restrictions, businesses would be permitted in two main areas on Idaho Maryland Road and McKnight Way.
Several public commenters advocated for the city to ease zoning restrictions and reduce the setbacks that prohibit businesses within 500 feet of residential uses or 600 feet of schools.

Other commenters wanted the council to add a medical marijuana designation and reduce the THC tax.

As of Tuesday, a measure enacting a cannabis business tax was leading 3,546 “yes” votes to 2,339 “no” votes.

“We do need to start small, we need to start somewhere, and this is a good start,” Vice Mayor Ben Aguilar said.

The city voted to amend the ordinance to allow processing licenses and permits for businesses over 4,000 square feet.

City attorney Michael Colantuono said the size restriction originated from an effort to create a niche for local, small businesses.

The ordinance would also allow up to 10 manufacturers, two testing labs, five distribution businesses, and two nurseries in the city.

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