At times, Monday night’s special meeting was contentious – particularly in the exchanges between commissioners and city staff – and pointed to an ongoing discord between the planning commission and the city council.
Commissioners were frustrated by the lack of information included in the Greenceuticals development agreement. Unlike previous development agreements the commission had considered for cannabis projects, the Greenceuticals agreement included no site-specific details. That rankled a number of commissioners.
Commissioner George Parker also questioned why the commission was holding a special meeting to consider the item, rather than doing so at a regularly scheduled meeting – especially considering the lack of information that had been presented to the commission on Monday night.
City Planner Bryan Stice explained that the city council had requested the commission hold a special meeting to expedite the process for Greenceuticals, and that development agreements didn’t need to include site-specific details, which would be hashed out when a company applies for its cannabis facilities regulatory permit and special use permit through the city council.
“It’s those permits where the city council reviews the site-specific details of the proposal,” Stice said. “In the last year, as part of our review with the planning commission for just the development agreements, we dealt a lot with the site-specific issues… and we’ve realized that we were being overly repetitive… Now that we’re a year into this, we focusing really on issues just pertaining to the development agreement.”
In other words, city staff had previously been giving the planning commission more information than they needed to for the purpose of making a recommendation on a development agreement – and they didn’t need to include that site-specific information going forward.
“We refined the process to how is the proposed development agreement consistent with Ordinance 519, which is our cannabis ordinance, and limited it to that discussion – because that’s all that’s really at stake as part of the development agreement,” Stice said.
A number of commissioners took issue with that. Brendan Farrell said that without better information on development agreements, the planning commission was effectively just rubber stamping things for the city council, and questioned the purpose of having a planning commission if that was the case. Richard Selover and George Parker both said they were blindsided by the change in procedure for handling development agreements.
“At this point, I’m a little upset with council,” Selover said.
A total of three motions were actually made during the meeting, all of which came after a lengthy period of public comment and commission deliberation. The first came from Ken Flagor Jr., seconded by Brendan Farrell, recommending that the city council deny the development agreement, which failed when the vote was called. The second was George Parker’s motion to continue the item to the next regular meeting. Continuing the item would have delayed the Greenceuticals project – an action that the planning commission has taken before on cannabis-related development agreements. Prior to Parker’s motion receiving a second, City Manager Jesse Cain interjected.
“I was asked by council not to let this be pushed,” Cain said. “Make a decision, either yes or no, on it. Council had a special meeting, they opened up the project to actually sell the property. They decided to sell the property based on this particular project, and that’s the one reason why we’re here tonight.”
Parker asked whether Cain thought that was an “overreach of that authority to this body, and the process.”
Cain said he didn’t.
“Wow,” Parker said, before the motion died for lack of a second. Both Flagor and Farrell said it wouldn’t be fair to the applicant to continue the item, while the commission and the council worked out their differences.
“In my opinion, we should pass it and let the city council run with it, and do what they want to do,” Flagor said, before moving to recommend approval. The motion carried 4-1, with Parker voting against it. ■