By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD
A zoning variance that an applicant said would make a large medical-marijuana facility viable was rejected Thursday (Oct. 12, 2017) by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board.
The project would involve construction of a 70,000 sq. ft. ‘barn’ and a 22,400 sq. ft. “headhouse” on a 40-acre property on Chase Falkland Road 10 km. south of Chase.
A staff report explained that such facilities are a permitted use under the Agricultural Forestry (AF-1) zoning for the property if they’re properly licensed and the buildings are set back at least 50 metres from property lines.
Kushty Nutraceuticals asked for reductions in the setbacks in order to develop the site next to Chase Falkland Road rather than elsewhere on the site.
CEO Paul Yeoman wrote that a security fence would surround the property, on-site security staff and cameras would be active 24 hours a day, and strict odor and noise controls would be in place.
But several neighbours of the area submitted letters voicing strong objections to the proposal in connection with such things as possible impact on the creek, odours, and property values.
One resident compared the main building to the size of a Home Depot and said it “is not in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood.”
Staff pointed out most of the objections weren’t directly related to the issue of setbacks, but director Rick Berrigan, the mayor of Chase, opposed the variance, saying “We need to look at what the variance is all about.”
Chair John Ranta said that since public hearings aren’t held for zoning variances, the board could postpone the issue and ask the applicant to appear before the board. A public meeting could also be held to allow residents to have their say.
That was an approach I favoured but it was defeated.
Kamloops director Donovan Cavers supported the variances, saying the project represents “a multi-million-dollar investment.”
However, the board voted almost unanimously to deny the variance request.
The project could still go ahead if Kushty Nutraceuticals puts together a new plan conforming to the setbacks in the zoning bylaw, and obtains the necessary licence from Health Canada.
Development services director Regina Sadilkova noted that while this is the first application for such a facility to come in front of the board, there are “a baker’s dozen” other such projects on the go in the region.
The federal government intends to legalize the use of recreational marijuana next July 1, which is expected to bring even more proposals for marijuana-production facilities.