Planco hears Bottoms grow project again tonight

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

ARCATA – With more than a month to regroup, advocates for and opponents of the proposed Arcata Land Company industrial cannabis grow proposal for the Arcata Bottom will meet again Thursday night before the Humboldt County Planning Commission.

In the intervening month since the first hearing, which was continued due to an abundance of overwhelmingly critical comment, the project has changed. To address opponents’ objections to the project’s huge footprint, it’s been reduced to somewhat over a third of its originally proposed 22.9 acres, now proposed to cover eight acres of grow space and about one more acre of support facilities. 

But area residents’ opposition has only hardened as they have become more organized. They’ve rallied under the new moniker Team 27th, and are doing community outreach via their savethearcatabottoms.com website, tabling and an email listserv.

Objections center on a range of potential impacts from the “mega-grow,” ranging from air, light and noise pollution to traffic safety and damage to the county’s small cannabis growers, plus other issues. The group considers the project’s Negative Declaration of environmental impact inadequate, and is demanding a full-blown EIR be conducted.  

Thursday’s special Planning Commission meeting is likely to feature another torrent of condemnation for the project. The hearing could give insight into whether the Planco might approve a project that checks all the boxes but is deeply opposed in the community. 

The commission can always approve the project with expectation that it will be appealed to the Board of Supervisors, which might be more inclined to incorporate popular sentiment into its ruling.

Last week, Team 27th reiterated its stance in a press release. Excerpts:

 Westwood Neighbors call for Cannabis Grow EIR

 In response to the Sun Valley Group’s plans to build a nearly 9-acre commercial cannabis grow in the Arcata Bottoms, local residents are calling on the Humboldt County Planning Commission to require an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Sun Valley, under the name Arcata Land Company, is seeking approval for 8-acres of plastic hoop houses and an additional 30,000 square feet of nursery space for cannabis production...

 If approved, the development would be the largest cannabis farm in Humboldt County and fifth largest in the State of California.

“My environmental concerns, shared with many neighbors, about this project center around air quality, water consumption, energy use, odor and noise,” Westwood resident and retired Federal Wildlife Research Biologist Jim Cotton said. “In order to understand the impacts of these topics, an EIR must be completed prior to issuing a permit to the applicant.”

 Cotton said that aspects of the County’s Mitigated Negative Declaration for this project appear to be in contradiction to the 2018 Final Environmental Impact Report Amendments to Humboldt County Code Regulating Commercial Cannabis Activities...  

The 900-plus Westwood neighborhood residents living within a half-mile will be most affected by the industrial cannabis farm’s odors, greenhouse fan noise, increased traffic, impacted water quality as well as possible health impacts to the medically fragile and elderly. But local cannabis farmers also alerted the Planning Commission to the company’s potential to stifle smaller grow competitors, and do so unfairly when not held to the same zoning standards.

 

 

 







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