Nevada City’s city council on Wednesday approved a process for approval business permit renewals for cannabis businesses.
Some modifications were made to streamline the process after some push-back from the business owners. But a proposed $5,000 processing fee was OK’d, although it was turned into a deposit rather than a flat cost.
Nevada City has authorized 17 “entitlements” to date, but only eight of those have been issued permits to operate. But because many of those initial permits were issued a year ago, those businesses are in line for permit renewals.
That process, as outlined by City Planner Amy Wolfson in a staff report, initially included yearly LiveScans, written notices to property owners within 300 feet and a “coordination plan” for waste management, security and delivery schedules for businesses in shared buildings, among other requirements.
At a May council meeting, Diana Gamzon of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance told the city council permit renewals should not be as time-consuming as initial applications, and questioned the $5,000 cost. City Manager Catrina Olson said the city found the fees it was charging for the permits were not covering costs, and added the funds generated would help pay for a much-needed compliance officer.
On Wednesday, Wolfson presented an amended permit renewal process that omitted requirements for an annual Live Scan submission, noting the city reserves the right to require one upon renewal. The coordination plan was changed to be applicable only to those businesses with shared-facility space in common with other cannabis businesses. Notification of the renewal to surrounding property owners was also omitted. City staff reserved the right to send a single letter to surrounding property owners once more business are operational, Wolfson said.
The city plans to add a compliance officer in the next budget year, Wolfson said, adding that the $5,000 renewal fee was affordable compared to other jurisdictions.
Several of the cannabis business owners continued to push against the fee as burdensome to those who have been spending money to make it through the permit process but who have not begun generating income.
Gamzon suggested the city could work with a consultant to perform annual compliance inspections, rather than committing to hiring a staff member next year.
‘I’d like to see the fee structure reassessed in a year,” she said, asking the city to make it a deposit with expenses being tracked.
“We’ve already taken on the burden of taking out money from the general fund, and that was not recouped,” City Manager Catrina Olson said. “I have to be conservative, I have to make sure the general fund remains healthy. We severely under-collected (deposits) originally.”
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at email@example.com.