A cannabis cultivation operation proposed by Abel Maldonado east of Santa Maria survived an attraction by an adjoining world-renowned winery Wednesday and was granted unanimous approval by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission.
However, the challenge deliberate for a web site about 6 miles east of Santa Maria doesn’t have a completely inexperienced mild, because the Planning Commission’s choice nonetheless could possibly be appealed to the Board of Supervisors.
Bien Nacido Vineyards and homeowners Marshall Miller and household appealed the Planning and Development Department director’s approval of a land use allow for Abel Maldonado’s household and associate Brandon Gesicki to develop Canna Rios Farms proper subsequent door to the Bien Nacido vineyards and wineries.
Tri-M Rental Group, owned by members of the Maldonado household, additionally appealed the allow however withdrew its attraction earlier than the beginning of Wednesday’s listening to.
The cannabis operation is deliberate for a web site on White Rock Lane off Santa Maria Mesa Road a number of hundred toes from the place the Sisquoc and Cuyama rivers be part of to turn out to be the Santa Maria River.
Maldonado was granted a allow to domesticate about 46.7 acres of cannabis open air, with 18.6 acres below hoop buildings, and to function a cannabis nursery open air on about 1.5 acres, with 0.95 of an acre of that additionally below hoops.
The proposed operation would contain two crops per yr, with one harvest interval for every lasting two to 3 weeks, however not more than 4 weeks, with the crop both packed moist into bins or flash frozen in an open staging space, the place it could be loaded onto vehicles and hauled to Monterey County for processing.
Five 280-square-foot containers could be used to retailer normal supplies, tools, pesticides and chemical substances, however no cannabis, and a 224-square-foot workplace trailer could be eliminated after one yr.
The cultivation web site could be roughly 100 toes from wine grapes, 750 toes from a wine-tasting room below building and 1,000 toes from present houses on the Bien Nacido property.
Reasons cited for the attraction, which the employees refuted, included that it’s inconsistent with the County Comprehensive Plan and the Land Use Development Code, fails to adjust to provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act with regard to odor management, crop conflicts and terpene taint, enlargement past authorized nonconforming use standing, illegal modification of the Cuyama River and violation of a well-sharing settlement.
But the principle thrust of the opposition was the impacts of odor on the wine-tasting expertise and cannabis terpenes on the flavour of the wine grapes.
“We are really proud of our vineyard and the specialness of what this site is and what the Santa Maria Valley is for growing grapes,” Miller stated.
He famous Bien Nacido was named one of many high 24 vineyards on this planet by Wine & Spirits, one of many high 10 on this planet by Wine Enthusiast and one of many high 5 in California by the Wall Street Journal, and the vineyards are talked about as a supply on extra wine labels than some other worldwide.
“The odor impact on our winery and the tasting room experience cannot be mitigated,” Miller stated.
Maldonado questioned the claimed impression of terpenes on the flavour of grapes and the ensuing wine.
He advised the fee that for 3 years he has grown industrial hemp on as much as 650 acres of his property — a complete of about 2.4 million vegetation — in a analysis challenge with UC Davis and Hancock College, with vegetation rising lower than 20 toes from Bien Nacido property.
Yet Bien Nacido wines from these years have obtained excessive reward, not solely from the winery’s sommelier but in addition in critiques.
“What’s the difference between cannabis and hemp?” he requested. “Really, nothing. … There’s no doubt there’s a glut in grapes. Small farmers need a path to survive.”
Commissioners typically agreed the land use allow was granted as a result of the challenge met all the required laws.
“I do believe the operation before us today is in compliance,” stated Chairman and 4th District Commissioner Larry Ferini. “I don’t see any way I can not support the project.”
Second District Commissioner Laura Bridley stated she was discovering it exhausting to discover a means across the employees’s suggestion to disclaim the attraction.
“The land use permit paradigm really puts the Planning Commission in a very limited situation,” she stated.
Maldonado stated he had pinot noir and pinot grigio grapes that he utilized in his personal wines planted simply 6 toes from his industrial hemp, and he plans to plant chardonnay, pinot noir and sauvignon blanc grapes as a buffer between his cannabis and the Bien Nacido vines.
Commissioners famous the proximity of cannabis and wine grapes ought to present vital information the county can use in assessing and regulating cannabis cultivation impacts.
“If anything, we do get a long-term experiment,” Ferini stated, and Bridley added, “I’m very excited to see what happens with this farm.”
First District Commissioner Michael Cooney famous the appellants had raised some actual points that want solutions, however he took word of the attitudes the 2 longtime farming neighbor households had proven within the allow and attraction course of.
“You know, this isn’t even the Hatfields versus the McCoys as we see in most of our cannabis projects throughout the county,” Cooney stated. “This is really the McCoys against the McCoys, and there was a politeness, a respect that ran through the project.”