Matthew RendaThe Union

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April 25, 2012
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Decision delayed on Nevada County pot ordinance

NEVADA CITY, Calif. — There will be no Nevada County ordinance to regulate the cultivation of marijuana — at least for two weeks.After six hours of presentation Tuesday from law enforcement, testimony from a wide range of public stakeholders and board deliberation, Nevada County's supervisors elected to delay voting on a medical marijuana ordinance until at least May 8.Supervisor Terry Lamphier said while much disagreement was offered by the public and board members, a consensus was apparent that some sort of ordinance is necessary moving forward.Supervisors considered two versions of the same ordinance — urgency and regular. The urgency ordinance would have immediately been enacted, while the other would continue through multiple public hearings before taking effect.However, Lamphier and Supervisor Hank Weston did not support the immediacy of the urgency ordinance, effectively delaying the implementation of a cultivation ordinance until at least early May. “I just don't see the urgency,” Weston said. Supervisors Nate Beason, Ted Owens and Ed Scofield favored approving an urgency ordinance, which would have rendered provisions such as square-footage limitations, a ban on indoor grows and registration of grow operations with the Nevada County Sheriff's Office effective immediately.Owens said such a measure was necessary not only to accommodate those who were frustrated by grow operations in their residential neighborhoods, but also to give legitimate growers an opportunity to adhere to guidelines before the season begins.Weston, however, said the provisions requiring registration and banning indoor grows were concerning. Beason said the square-footage limitations were too strict and advocated for a 100-square-foot limit as opposed to the 75-square-foot limit as stipulated in the ordinance.Scofield said that once he learned the urgency ordinance could not be modified after it was approved, he withdrew his motion for approval.“I continue to be swayed by those that use marijuana for legitimate medical needs,” Scofield said after the meeting. “I would've like to see the ordinance get enacted so we get a handle on a situation of some people who operate outside the rules.”Sheriff Keith Royal expressed satisfaction with the final result.“I am pleased,” he said. “This is a very tough, very difficult issue. But I think this allows us time to find out how we can benefit both sides on the issue.”Don Bessee, a member of the Nevada County Residents Against the Cultivation of Cannabis, also said he was happy with the decision to delay.“I think the bottom line is that there will be an ordinance to protect neighbors,” Bessee said, adding he was open to some changes suggested by medical marijuana advocates and board members.Patricia Smith, president of the local Americans for Safe Access, said she also left the meeting encouraged some common ground could be achieved. Smith said registration is fine, but it should be handled by a third party to relieve fears of law enforcement enacting criminal proceedings against growers and would relieve the burden on county services.She also criticized the ban on indoor grows and the setbacks from property lines, saying the setbacks should be measured from a neighbor's house.“I'm hopeful we can come together,” said Smith, who earlier complained suggestions she had made in public workshops were disregarded in formation of the ordinance.Many lawyers, including prominent medical marijuana attorneys Jeffrey Lake and Zenia Gilg said litigation would follow if the ordinance was passed.Gilg said all county residents should be concerned that their taxes would be used to fight ongoing legal battles that were likely to ensue.Weston expressed concern about such a possibility; but, County Counsel Alison Barrett Green said the county was well within its legal rights to establish a nuisance ordinance.“This is not a land use issue, it's a nuisance ordinance,” she said. “It's now a question of policy.”Barrett Green said the ordinance was purely a civil ordinance and not a criminal code, meaning the repercussions for flouting the ordinance amount to a civil matter.Ultimately, 47 people gave public comment during the meeting, with 34 people opposing the ordinance as crafted and 14 urging approval. Most of the 34 people in opposition said they recognized the need for some form of ordinance. If the regular ordinance is passed on May 8, it will not take effect until June 22, Barrett Green said. If the urgency ordinance is passed it will take effect immediately upon approval.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Apr 25, 2012 01:33PM Published Apr 25, 2012 01:31PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.