In a 3-2 decision during their Sept. 5 regular meeting, the Colusa City Council voted to adopt an ordinance approving an interim, 12-month development agreement with cannabis ecommerce business Big Moon Sky, along with resolutions approving a cannabis manufacturing special use permit and a regulatory permit for the company.
The ordinance will come back for a second reading and public hearing at the council’s next regularly scheduled meeting.
After the second reading of the ordinance and its ultimate adoption, Big Moon Sky – which Colusa City staff has previously likened to the Amazon of the medical marijuana world – will be able to operate a temporary medical marijuana packaging and distribution facility at a vacant lot on Eighth St., in Colusa’s Riverfront District. The lot is located across the street from ColUSA Made and the Tap Room.
Prior to last week’s council meeting, Big Moon Sky received a thumbs-up from the Colusa Planning Commission, which voted 3-0 to approve the development agreement.
The company’s growing and packaging operation will be from two portable trailers, totaling about 1,344 square-feet, located in the parking lot across from ColUSA Made and the Tap Room. The company is affiliated with the Triple Crown Growers project, proposed for the Riverbend Estates Subdivision of Colusa, on East Clay Street.
Big Moon Sky ultimately hopes to open a permanent facility at that location, should the Triple Crown Growers project come to fruition, city officials said.
Crafton, who has spent the last five years in the direct-to-consumer wine industry in the Napa Valley, said he plans to focus on medical cannabis, although the legal sale of marijuana for recreational use kicks in Jan. 1.
As with the Green Leaf Processors, Inc. facility on Fifth Street – which is the subject of a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuit filed by the County of Colusa – the City approved a resolution approving a notice of exemption from CEQA.
County Counsel Marcos Kropf said that while the county had submitted written comments on the proposed temporary facility for Big Moon Sky, he couldn’t say whether the county would add the new project to the current lawsuit.
“At this current moment, we haven’t done that. I can’t tell you, at this point, whether we will or not. It doesn’t mean we will, and it doesn’t mean we won’t,” Kropf said.
During last week’s meeting, City Planner Bryan Stice went into detail as to why the most recent project qualifies for the “infill exemption” of CEQA, claiming that the project meets each of the five qualifications for the exemption.
“There’s two ways I looked at it, as well as staff. Again, it’s an area of commerce, an area of retail production, manufacturing and distribution, already,” Stice said. “This is no different than that – this is actually of a much smaller scale than many of the businesses that have been there historically, and some that remain there still.”
The two council members to vote against the resolutions and ordinance were Mayor Pro Tem Greg Ponciano and councilmember Dave Markss. Only Ponciano offered an explanation for his vote, saying that he wasn’t a fan of the proposed temporary facility, particularly in the Riverfront District.
“I mean, I came out publicly in support of the Green Leaf project down the street from that,” Ponciano said. “Not to say I didn’t have some issues with that location as well, being as it’s in the Riverfront District, but ultimately, I was able to accept that because it was a permanent building, a permanent structure, aesthetically pleasing, opportunities for landscape and improvements to the property. Again, a portable unit, on an empty lot with a fence around it doesn’t check any of those boxes for me. That’s where my hold up is.”
Two former city councilmembers, Marilyn Acree and Donna Critchfield, spoke out against the project, citing concerns over zoning and the appropriateness of the project for the Riverfront District. ■