Richard Selover, chair of the City of Colusa’s Planning Commission, was at last Tuesday’s city council meeting to express the commission’s collective frustration with the way cannabis projects are being handled in town.
During the period of public comment, Selover addressed the council regarding the recent friction between the two bodies, and the commission’s decision to recommend approval of a development agreement with Greenceuticals the night before.
“Last night, we had an emergency meeting, at the council’s request, to deal with the property transaction at Main and Bridge Streets. I don’t know if you’ve heard a report on it as of yet, or if you have any information on it, but you guys have no idea how close you were to getting a no-confidence vote against this council, and a continuation from the planning commission on that project,” Selover said.
Selover added that the commission had for months been asking for better continuity between the two bodies, for better direction, and for a “throttle” on cannabis projects. The council had not responded to any of their requests, which has frustrated the planning commissioners, he said.
“We don’t mind serving at your pleasure, but if we are going to serve at your pleasure, when we ask a question, we expect an answer. I think that’s fair and reasonable,” Selover said.
Selover added that the situation with the council came to a head when, at Monday’s special meeting of the Planning Commission, City Manager Jesse Cain said that he was asked by council not to let the Greenceuticals Development Agreement be pushed, and instructed the commission to “make a decision, either yes or no,” rather than continuing the item and delaying the project.
“What we got last night was a gun held to our heads, saying you will approve this or else. I don’t think any of the members sitting on that committee with me are very happy about this right now,” Selover said. “I know I’m not, for one, and I know the public is not.”
Selover requested that the council schedule a joint public meeting with the planning commission, so that the two groups could get on the same page with cannabis projects. He also said that he and other commissioners were frustrated by a “paradigm shift” in the planning commission’s role in the consideration of cannabis development agreements, noting that the Greenceuticals development agreement was handled “completely differently” than the last four cannabis-related development agreements the planning commission had previously considered.
“We were not allowed to look at any of the property features, any of the building plans, any of the elevations. None of the things that are typically under our jurisdiction were allowed to be presented to us,” he said.
Selover and Mayor Greg Ponciano engaged in some back-and-forth before Ryan Jones, city attorney, advised Ponciano that the council needed to be careful about discussing items not on the agenda.
For his part, Mayor Greg Ponciano said that the planning commission’s role was already clearly defined.
“What you had before you last night was a development agreement, right? I don’t see any ambiguity in that. We were asking for a decision on that development agreement,” Ponciano said. “Those (site-specific details) are not included in a developer agreement of this sort. The developer agreement that was before you last night was a financial agreement between the City of Colusa and Greenceuticals… it was pretty cut and dry.”
He added that, at the point in time where those site-specific details become relevant, it would come before the planning commission. That isn’t necessarily the case, however. City Manager Jesse Cain previously told the commission that the site-specific details would be worked out during the Regulatory and Special Use Permitting processes. Per the city’s commercial cannabis ordinance, both are directly overseen by the City Council, and do not require a recommendation from the planning commission.
Ultimately, Ponciano requested that a single-item special meeting be held in the near future, to discuss the roles and responsibilities of the planning commission. ■