Bien Nacido Vineyards’ appeal regarding the Maldonado cannabis project east of Santa Maria rejected | Government and politics

A permit for a cannabis cultivation project that pitted two farming families in northern Santa Barbara County against each other was approved by the supervisory board on Tuesday in a 4-1 vote.

The ruling granted de novo approval of Abel Maldonado’s 48-acre Canna Rios LLC project, while dismissing the appeal filed by the Miller family and their Bien Nacido wineries, which are located adjacent to the project site.

First District Supervisor Das Williams, who, along with the rest of the board, generally supported the project, ended up voting ‘no’ after Canna Rios Chief Compliance and Corporate Officer Brandon Gesicki, refused his request to include an analysis of the company in the conditions of the project.

Canna Rios used the 1,500 plants per acre figure to justify their limit of two truck trips per day from the site during the two three-week harvest periods.

Although the conditions of approval limit the project to two daily truck trips, Williams also wanted the limit of 1,500 factories included.

But Brandon Gesicki, Compliance and Business Manager for Canna Rios, preferred the flexibility to grow more or less plants per acre depending on growing conditions, plant size and other factors.

“I think it sets a bad precedent for people to submit things on file that they don’t want to have on this project,” Williams said before voting “no”.

Maldonado plans to cultivate 46.29 acres of cannabis, including 36 acres under hoops, as well as a 1.45-acre cannabis nursery on a 431-acre plot, replacing a cash crop of hemp grown at the site for several years.

Maldonado said the estimated 400,000 cannabis plants will have less impact than the 2.4 million hemp plants that have been grown at the site.

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The project will employ 24 full-time people and 43 other temporary workers during harvest, with the flowers to be trucked the same day they are harvested to the company’s processing, manufacturing and distribution facilities in King City.

The Miller family first raised six main issues in the appeal, then added two more and submitted an additional 130 pages of supporting information in the days leading up to the hearing.

Generally, the appeal said the project did not comply with the Comprehensive Plan, the Land Use Development Code and the Williamson Act, did not comply with the California Quality Act. environment, did not comply with all laws and regulations relating to site use, conflicted with a shared well agreement, and new information regarding air pollution required additional environmental study.

“These are very serious issues for the Miller family,” said Courtney Taylor, representing the Millers.

In her presentation, Taylor focused on moving from one water well to another that she said would not lessen the impact on the underground surface flow of the Sisquoc and Cuyama rivers that converge at the site of the project as well as the lack of information on a composting operation. in addition to its size.

She also cited issues around an allegedly illegal berm that diverted the Cuyama River, as well as volatile organic compound and greenhouse gas emissions from what could represent up to 1,200 truck trips per. year, and not the 52 listed by Canna Rios.

“The analogy I have used with my clients is that you cannot prepare an emissions factor report using a Chevrolet Volts survey fleet and then run the project using Ford F-150s.” Taylor said.

A staff report said Maldonado revised the draft to address the Millers’ concerns by relocating the grow area to provide 1,000 feet of setback from the Bien Nacido tasting room, reducing the size of the prep areas. , composting and waste storage, removing flash -Freeze component and add more hoop structures to help contain odors, prevent pesticide drift issues, and reduce water consumption.

“We have a big project here,” Maldonado told the board. “I want to say this is the best cannabis project in all of Santa Barbara County. I will oppose it to anyone.

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