In a 3-1 decision at last week’s meeting, the Planning Commission of the City of Colusa voted to recommend the city council approve a development agreement with Golden Roots Nursery – the Yuba City-based company that hopes to open a cannabis cloning and manufacturing facility at the Colusa Industrial Park.
The matter will now go before the city council sometime in January. City Manager Jesse Cain said that it could be on the agenda for either Jan. 2 or Jan. 16.
Assuming the council approves the development agreement by an ordinance, there will need to be a second reading of the development agreement before the project can move forward. Golden Roots will also need to obtain a Special Use Permit and a Regulatory Permit before opening its doors.
“While the development agreement is in a holding pattern, that’s when we’ll be working on those permits,” Cain said.
At Wednesday’s meeting, City Planner Bryan Stice noted that Colusa County Community Development Director Greg Plucker had submitted a comment letter to the city regarding the project. The central point of the letter was that the city had failed to seek review from the County’s Airport Land Use Commission for the project, which the county claimed is required by law. Part of the project falls in the typical takeoff pattern of the airport, which was a central point in the County’s comments. Plucker’s letter also outlined “mandatory next steps” that the city needed to take before it moves forward with the Golden Roots development agreement.
“The County has rather overstated their position with this letter, and it’s a bit disturbing to me that they’ve actually done this,” City Attorney Russell Hildebrand told the commission. “I think it’s unfortunate.”
He added that the section of the California Utilities Code cited by Plucker did not apply to development agreements, which is what the commission was weighing in on last week.
“That’s sort of my major issue with this: He’s made that statement, he’s laid this out about all of this mandatory next steps that you must do, and I would strongly disagree with that,” Hildebrand said. “That is misinformation… I am coming on a little strong tonight, because I get offended when someone, under official seal, tries to hand my planning commission incorrect information.”
Colusa Industrial Properties CEO Ed Hulbert also said that he wasn’t happy with the comments submitted by Plucker.
“I agree 100 percent with the city attorney,” Hulbert said. “I’m offended by this letter from Greg. I get offended every now and then – it’s part of the business.”
He added that Colusa Industrial Properties has long had a “good, close relationship” with the Airport Land Use Commission, and has always kept them apprised of potential projects in the industrial park – but that the commission typically hasn’t been brought into the fold until after a project had cleared the necessary hoops with the city.
“Until that point, we don’t even know if we have a project,” Hulbert said. “He’s got it backwards. What (Plucker) put in here is not the way it works. I think the development agreement doesn’t mean you get to build a project. It goes through a process. We pull a building permit. The Airport Land Use Commission is on the building permit – it’s on a check-off list. What he put in this letter is not accurate… CIP follows the rules, and we have to go through the process.”
The lone no-vote came from planning commissioner George Parker, who said that he was concerned with that the city was moving forward with the project without adequate study under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
City staff determined that the Golden Roots project was eligible for the Infill Exemption under CEQA, and thus did not need further environmental review. He suggested that at the very least, an Initial Study should be completed for the project.
Hulbert told the commission that the entire industrial park had previously undergone a full-fledged Environmental Impact Review, and that the project would fall under that umbrella, but Parker said that he believed didn’t go far enough to address potential issues with cannabis projects, which weren’t considered under the umbrella EIR. ■