Breaking News: Needles, CA: Needles City Council continues public hearings denying proposed North L Street cannabis cultivation and distribution facilities resolutions and zone change.

By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews):

Source: Needles City Clerk Dale Jones (Information and Agenda Packet):

Needles, California: Members of the Needles City Council have continued the public hearings denying proposed North L Street cannabis cultivation and distribution facilities resolutions and zone change.

This decision occurred during the regular meeting of the Needles City Council on Tuesday, February 8th, 2022 inside the Needles City Council Chambers because of a lack of quorum because some members would have to recused themselves on the agenda item because of a conflict of interest, and that would have left not enough members for a quorum on this agenda item, adding to that is Needles City Mayor will not be present at tonight’s meeting because he’s reportedly sick.

The public hearing discussing and possibly vote on denying proposed North L Street cannabis cultivation and distribution facilities resolutions and zone change will be the continued to the next regular meeting of the Needles City Council possibly on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022.

***** The following is more information as well as the downloadable agenda item packets regarding the North L Street cannabis cultivation and distribution facilities: *****

  • Regarding Public Hearing Agenda Item 7: A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Needles Denying a General Plan Amendment from a Residential Medium Density (RM) designation to an Industrial designation and A Resolution Denying a proposed Zone Change from Multi-Family Residential (R-3) to Light Manufacturing (M-1) for the parcel located at 109 L Street also Known as APN 0185-111-084-0000:

According to documents from the City of Needles, to permit the operation of the proposed cultivation and distribution facility, the processing of a General Plan Amendment and Zone Change for parcel APN 0185-111-084-0000 is required to provide consistency with the land use plan and zoning ordinance. Under the General Plan Amendment and the Zone Change, 0185-111-084-0000 would be redesignated from a Residential Medium Density (RM) designation to a Highway Commercial (CH) designation. The project site is currently vacant land, and is approximately 1.24 acres in size, located at 109 North “L” Street in the City of Needles.

On May 26, 2020 City Council Ordinance No. 629-AC , allowing marijuana cultivation in zones C-1, C-2, C-3, M-1 and M-2 with the approval of a Conditional Use Permit and a Regulatory Permit. The project site is located in the Multi-Family Residential (R-3) zone.

The matter was heard before the Planning Commission at the January 19, 2022 meeting, with written comments from community members opposed to the project and public testimony.
Written and Public Testimony to the project was in regards to the projects location not being suitable for a cannabis business in a residential neighborhood. There was also discussion regarding odors and noise being emitted from the project.

At the January 19, 2022 Planning Commission Meeting, Planning Commissioners voted 3-1 to Recommend Denial of the General Plan Amendment from a Residential Medium Density (RM) designation to an Industrial designation and recommended denial for a proposed Zone Change from Multi-Family Residential (R-3) to Light Manufacturing (M-1) for the parcel located at 109 L Street also Known as APN 0185-111-084-0000.

On January 25, 2022, the Needles City Council held a duly noticed and advertised public hearing to receive oral and written testimony for a general plan amendment from a residential medium density (RM) designation to an industrial designation and a resolution approving a proposed zone change from multi-family residential (R-3) to light manufacturing (M-1) for the parcel located at 109 “L” street also known as APN 0185-111-084-0000, Resolution 2022-09 Testimony was taken from multiple members of the public who oppose the General Plan Amendment from a Residential Medium Density (RM) designation to an Industrial Designation and a proposed zone change from Multi-Family Residential (R-3) to Light Manufacturing (M-1) for the parcel located at 109 L Street also known as APN 0185-111-084-0000 on the grounds that the location is not appropriate for the uses that are associated with an Industrial General Plan Designation and a Light Manufacturing Zoning because it would destroy the character of the historic residential neighborhood and would not be in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood.

Council voted to deny the General Plan Amendment from a Residential Medium Density (RM) designation to an Industrial designation and recommended denial for a proposed Zone Change from Multi-Family Residential (R-3) to Light Manufacturing (M-1) for the parcel located at 109 L Street also Known as APN 0185-111-084-0000.

*** General Plan Amendment Findings: ***

  • 1: That the amendment or plan is not consistent with the intent of the goals and policies of the General Plan as a whole, and is not consistent with any element thereof;
  • FINDING: The proposed General Plan Amendment from a Residential Medium Density (RM) designation to an Industrial designation would be inconsistent with the elements, goals and policies of the General Plan related to Industrial uses.

 

  • 2: That the amendment or plan is not necessary to prescribe reasonable controls and standards for affected land uses to ensure compatibility and integrity of those uses with other established uses.
  • FINDING: The proposed General Plan Amendment is not necessary to prescribe reasonable controls and standards for affected land uses to ensure compatibility and integrity of those uses with other established uses. The property is currently Multi-Family Residential (R-3) and can be developed as such consistent with the surrounding uses.

 

  • 3: That the amendment or plan is not necessary to provide reasonable property development rights while protecting environmentally sensitive land uses and species;
  • FINDING: The proposed GPA, is not necessary in order to provide reasonable property development rights while protecting environmentally sensitive land uses and species.

The property can be developed residential and would be consistent with the surrounding neighborhood and uses. As Industrial designation would permit development of the property in a manner that is not consistent with or in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood, general plan designation and uses.

*** Zone Change Findings: ***

The proposed Zone Change is not consistent with the City’s zoning standards.

The zoning change would occur in a residential neighborhood surrounded by residential uses and as proposed would introduce inconsistent industrial uses which would adversely affect surrounding property values and would not be in harmony with surrounding neighborhood and existing property uses and zoning.

As for the public notification, the City of Needles said in the documents that a public hearing notice was only published in the Needles Desert Star on January 12, 2022. Notices were sent to property owners within 300 feet of the proposed project and posted in two conspicuous locations.

As for the critical timeline, the City of Needles said in the documents that the applicant’s anticipated timeline is to be in production as soon as possible.

As for the fiscal impact, the City of Needles said in the documents there is no fiscal impact.

As for the environmental, the City of Needles said in the documents that pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the attachedlnitial Study (IS)/Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) was prepared to analyze the potential environmental effects of the project.

*** An Initial Study was required for the following reasons: ***

  1. the project site was not considered to be infill due to its location;
  2. the site is relatively undisturbed and was therefore subject to an analysis of biological and cultural resources.

Based on the findings contained in that Initial Study, City Staff determined that, with the implementation of mitigation measures, there would be no substantial evidence that the project would have a significant effect on the environment, and an Original Draft 1S/MND (“Original MND”) was revised and a Recirculated IS/MND was prepared. A copy of the Final MND is provided.

The Original IS/MND was prepared in February 2019 for the Project and was posted to the City of Needle’s website for public review and consideration. The Project proposed to apply for a general plan amendment (GPA) (from Medium Density Residential to General Commercial), zoning change (from R-3 Multi-Family Residential to C-2 General Commercial), and

Conditional Use Permit for proposed indoor cannabis cultivation facilities in accordance with the Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. The Project proposed to operate cultivation activities within up to two separate metal buildings on the 1.24-acre parcel with up to 25,000 square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation.

On March 20, 2019, the City published a Notice of Intent (N01) to Adopt the Original IS/MND. Pursuant to Sections 15072 and 15073 of CEQA Guidelines, the Original IS/MND and NO1 was distributed for a 30-day public review period, which ended on April 19, 2019. The Original IS/MND was submitted to the State Clearinghouse and Planning Unit (State Clearinghouse); responsible and trustee agencies; organizations and interested parties; and all parties who requested notice for review and comment in accordance with CEQA.

Subsequent to the public review period but prior to the hearing for the Original IS/MND, the scope of the Project changed. The Project now proposes distribution in addition to cultivation and, instead of changing the land use designation and zone to commercial, is now proposing a change to industrial. The Project proposes to operate cultivation activities within two separate metal buildings on the 1.24-acre parcel with up to 10,589 square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation (a total structure area of 21,500 square feet). The Project proposes to operate distribution facilities out of one of the two buildings. The Project proposes to develop the site in two distinct phases, which are described as Phase 1 and Phase 2. Phase 1 includes both cultivation and distribution facilities, while Phase 2 includes additional cultivation facilities.

The Project would require both cannabis cultivation and cannabis distribution licenses. Therefore, the Project is now applying for a general plan amendment to change the land use designation from Medium Density Residential to Industrial, a zoning change from R-3 Multi-Family Residential to M-1 Light Manufacturing, and two Conditional Use Permits for one for cultivation and a second for distribution. As a result of the additions and changes made to the Project and the applications, the City revised the Original IS/MND to analyze the changes to the Project and address the four comment letters received regarding the Original Draft IS/MND (Recirculated MND).

The Recirculated IS/MND and Notice of Intent (N01) to Adopt a MND was prepared and posted on the City’s website and circulated to responsible agencies via the State Clearinghouse (SCH #2019039101) and direct mail for a 30-day public review and comment period starting on August 20, 2021.

The public review period for comments on the proposed adoption of the Recirculated MND closed on September 20, 2021. Comments were received from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Responses these comments are responded to in the Final Recirculated MND in signified by strikeouts (strikeouts) where text is removed and by underlined font (underlined font) where text is added. These changes do not constitute new significant information that would require the revision and recirculation of the Recirculated MND.

A Mitigation Monitoring Program (MMP) has also been prepared to ensure implementation of the mitigation measures for the project (Condition 21).

Pursuant to AB 52 and SB 18, the City completed the tribal consultation process for the proposed project. Consultation consisted of sending out letters to tribes that had previously requested consultation; notification letters were sent to five tribes.

The 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians provided a response stating that they currently had no concerns but requested any cultural reports related to the project site. The cultural report was appended to the Recirculated IS/MND. The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe (FM IT) also provided a response with questions regarding water use, dust control, project lifetime, and permits. The Draft MND included mitigation requiring a Tribal monitor be present at the site ground-disturbance phases of the project (Condition 67). The City responded to their letter on November 23, 2020 and stated the City was available to meet with the FMIT to further discuss concerns and provide the City with any additional information they believed applicable to the Project. The FMIT did not provide a response and, as a result, consultation was deemed complete.

As the Project requires an amendment to the General Plan, the City of Needles is required to consult with local tribes as the CEQA lead agency pursuant to both AB 52 and SB 18. The Project has been referred to the tribes in conformance with both AB 52 and SB 18.

The recommended action to members of the Needles City Council is to approve Resolution No. 2022-19 Denying a General Plan Amendment from a Residential Medium Density (RM) designation to an Industrial designation and A Resolution Denying a proposed Zone Change from Multi-Family Residential (R-3) to Light Manufacturing (M-1) for the parcel located at 109 “L” Street also Known as APN 0185-111-084-0000.

*** Agenda Packet for Agenda Item 7 (Unless otherwise noted, all downloadable agenda packets that are posted here are in a PDF file format so please make sure to have a PDF file reader or viewer): ***

CC-07-020822 – General Plan Change Denial 109 L

  • Regarding Public Hearing Agenda Item 8(A): A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Needles Denying a Conditional Use Permit for a 2 Phase Cannabis Cultivation Facility located at 109 “L” Street also known as APN 0185-111-084-0000:

According to documents from the City of Needles, the applicant, Mr. Lucas, is proposing the construction of a cannabis cultivation and distribution facility, comprised of two (2) separate steel buildings, Building A and B, constructed in two phases, with a total structure area of 21,500 square feet, each building with a dimension of 50’x215′. The project proposes up to 10,589 square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation (a total structure area of 21,500 square feet). The Project proposes to operate a 440 Sq. Ft. distribution facility out of one of the two buildings. The project site is currently vacant land, and is approximately 1.25 acres in size, located at 109 North “L” Street in the City of Needles, as shown in Figure 1: Project Area.

Figure 2: Site Plan shows the plans for the building locations and arrangement. The first phase includes the construction of one 10,750 sq. ft. building, Building “A”, and an identical building, Building B, would be constructed within 12 months of completion of the first building, as part of Phase 2. The metal buildings will have a maximum height of 15 feet.

The first building, building A will include three grow rooms and one veg room with a combined total 3,768 sq. ft; a 449 sq. ft cloning room, a 707 sq. ft. dry room, a 389 sq. ft. trim room, two 8-foot by 8-foot American with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible bathroom, a 378-square-foot security room, a 247-square-foot office, a 230-square-foot men’s dressing room, a 230-square-foot women’s dressing room, a 353-square-foot break room, and a data room and an electrical room associated with both the cultivation and distribution operations.

The Phase 1 building would also contain a 440-square foot distribution facility (separate CUP), a 353-sqaure-foot secured storage room, and a 172-square-foot vault that exclusively supports the distribution activities. A total of 965 square feet of the Phase 1 building is dedicated strictly to distribution operations. A total of 5,313 square feet of the Phase 1 building is dedicated strictly to the cultivation operation. The remaining 4,472 square feet of the total 10,750 square feet of the Phase 1 building includes common hallways and the rooms that are shared by both operations.. All construction will be completed to the standards of the California Code of Regulations for commercial structures, including the installation of smoke and fire detection alarms. The building will be thoroughly insulated in order to reduce the load on the proposed air conditioning (A/C) systems.

A parking lot will be installed appurtenant to the building with access from L Street. Two ADA parking spots will be designated based on the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design which requires one spot for every twenty-five. Forty parking spaces will be provided, as well as a loading bay for each building. There is sufficient area on the east side of the parcel for these spaces. Cannabis cultivation does not fit any of the listed uses in the Needles parking code, and the number of required spaces is based on peak employee shift (Ordinance 427-AC).

State-of-the-art Phresh Filter carbon filtration units will be utilized by the proposed project to remove cannabis odor from any air vented to the exterior (Condition 60). These units have been utilized successfully by other cannabis projects for odor elimination. Hyperfans, or another fan compatible with the filtration units, will be used and sized appropriately for required air circulation inside the facility. Locked dumpsters will be located exterior to the building that will be located within the security perimeter and within a trash enclosure.

Cannabis will be cultivated indoors in soil pots. The project will not include any hydroponic cultivation. Pots will be located in the grow room and will be between 1 gallon and 10 gallons in size. Cannabis plants will be hand-watered to prevent overwatering. The lighting for the plants will be raised or lowered as needed.

Noise generated from ongoing operational activities is limited to air conditioning units located on the exterior of the structures. Ten industrial 4-ton mini-split A/C units are proposed. The exact model is not known, but a couple potential models have sound pressure levels of 76 decibels (dBA) at a standard AHRI measurement distance of 3 feet (Daikin 2018). Up to ten A/C units will be running at any given time during summer months. Even with both structures in use after implementation of Phase 2 of the project, the noise at the property line is not anticipated to be greater than 60 dBA at the property line.

A minimal amount of soil, nutrients and other materials will be temporarily stored in barrels inside the facility. Deliveries will be timed so that all materials delivered will be utilized after only two to three days so that there is no long-term storage required. These will be delivered directly to the project site by a cultivation supplier. Spent soil will be recycled rendering it useless and sent to a licensed disposal facility.

The distribution facility will be contained to three rooms (see attached drawing) within the Phase 1 building. These include a vault, distribution room, and secured storage room. The vault will be used for storage of finished product, tested product ready for distribution, and untested product. The distribution room will be a holding area for finished and packaged goods ready to be shipped, and the secured storage will store finished goods ready for distribution’ product must be stored in secure, vaulted facilities, and the storage rooms would meet these requirements. Distribution staff would use the common rooms, such as dressing rooms and bathrooms, shared with the cultivation operation.

The cultivation operation ends as soon as product is transferred to the distribution operation. Product is typically transferred in 100-lb increments from the cultivator to the distributor. The project will implement a track and trace system as required by the City of Needles and by the State of California. The distributor would be in contact with the dispensaries to which product would be sold. The distributor would package and label cannabis product based on dispensary needs and prepare for transportation. All proper personal protective equipment would be used by distribution operation staff. It is anticipated that the distribution operation will operate 6 hours per day, Monday through Friday. Depending on the cultivation schedule and needs of dispensaries buying cannabis product, distribution of product would occur anywhere from weekly to monthly. No on-site retail sales or manufacturing will be performed. The distribution operation will require a California cannabis distribution license.

Access to the proposed facility will be exclusively from L Street. For security purposes, no public access to the facility will be allowed (Condition 42f). Deliveries will be coordinated with on-site employees and only conducted when employees are present during normal business hours (Condition 76).

The parcel will be lined on the north and south sides with a 6-foot masonry block wall and will be landscaped. The east and west sides, facing the streets, will be fenced with a short stub wall and wrought iron. Gates will be installed facing both streets (Condition 54).

Security cameras will be placed on each exterior corner of each building. Some cameras will be motion-activated and will turn on exterior lights if movement is detected (Condition 42a). Additional interior security system will be used in each of the main spaces. All exterior lighting will comply with the City of Needles lighting standards as outlined in Ordinance 594-AC, amended Chapter 12 of the Needles Municipal Code, and sections §8304(c) and §8304(g) of the California Code of Regulations. All installed lighting will comply with the City’s lighting standards regarding the fixture type, wattage, illumination levels, and shielding, which will moderate any light generated from the project to a level that will not contribute adverse impacts to nighttime views (Condition 19).

The proposed facility will be served by water supplied by the City of Needles. The operational water needs are 5 to 7 acre-feet per year after the build-out of Phase 2. The Applicant (Mr. Lucas) will need to request a “Will Serve” letter from the City of Needles for the amount of water requested by the operation as part of the local permitting process (Condition 20). The groundwater well the City uses for the water source has sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the proposed project. Water and sanitation needs for the distribution operation consist of water and sewer for bathrooms,

The proposed facility will use City sewer lines for wastewater needs. Each facility will include a reverse osmosis water treatment system that does not employ salt. The system is high capacity and produces treated water at a 1:2 ratio with mineralized wastewater. All cultivation wastewater from the project will be disposed of through an evaporation system consisting of a 2,500-gallon hard plastic tank. Wastewater from the reverse osmosis system will be sent to external hard tanks prior to being sent into the evaporation tank. The black evaporation tank is left with the vents open so that the water will warm and evaporate off as the tank heats up. These tanks are located along the southern edge of the site, close to the southwest corner of the parcel. Alternatively, wastewater will be stored and picked up for treatment by an off-site septic company, Daniell’s Septic Tank Pumping, that will transport it to a licensed disposal facility. The project will qualify for an exemption under the RWQCB State Water Board Cannabis Cultivation Policy, General Order 2017-0023-DWQ. No mineralized cultivation wastewater will be sent to the City sewer or reclaimed on site. The cultivation water system for the project will be modeled after the system currently used by the Green Acres Group within the City of Needles, which has been designed as a “zero waste” system. The amount of cultivation wastewater from this cultivation system is very minimal, as water is applied to plants in an amount that does not result in any runoff.

The proposed project will use electrical power supplied by the City of Needles Public Utility Authority. The primary use of power will be for A/C and cultivation lighting. The estimated power draw per structure is 170 kilowatts (kW). At full buildout, the total power draw is estimated at 340 kW. Backup generators will be used to power critical processes in the event of a power outage. The distribution operation will also be served by city water and local electrical utilities. The energy usage for distribution activities will be minimal compared to the energy needs for the cultivation operation.

Landscaping is proposed along all edges of the parcel and around the buildings. All landscaping will require minimal maintenance and will include palm trees, native cacti, and other native desert plants in addition to other types of plants that can be sustained by water reclaimed on-site. The project will include a reverse osmosis pre-treatment system with wastewater plumbed to exterior hard tanks for on-site landscaping irrigation, among other uses.

After the completion of Phase 1, the second phase proposes the construction of an additional structure. The timeline proposed for beginning Phase 2 is within a year of installation of the first structure under Phase 1. The second structure will be of identical size (215-foot by 50-foot), adding an additional 10,750 square feet of space for a total structure area of 21,500 square feet. With both buildings in place, the total cultivation area (grow rooms and veg rooms) will be 10,589 square feet. The Phase 2 building also includes a 383-square-foot trim room, a 760-square-foot dry room, a 501-square-foot secured storage room, and a 241-square-foot vault. The Phase 2 building will not be part of the distribution facility. Each of the buildings will have their own A/C units and carbon filtration units and will be able to be independently operated.

Parking areas may be combined, but each will have sufficient capacity for employees and staff and a designated ADA parking space. Phase I cultivation operations will require a maximum of four employees as well as the facility operator.

The operating hours of the cultivation operation will be four to six hours per day during daylight business hours. Proposed hours are between 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. or 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. each day. At full operation after Phase 2 completion, a maximum of 14 people will be on-site each day, including eight employees and two operators, and up to 4 distribution employees.

On May 26, 2020 City Council Ordinance No. 629-AC, allowing marijuana cultivation in zones C-1, C-2, C-3, M-1 and M-2 with the approval of a Conditional Use Permit and a Regulatory Permit. The parcel is zoned Multi-Family Residential (R-3) and designated Residential (Medium Density) under the General Plan land use designation.

The matter was heard before the Planning Commission at the January 19, 2022 meeting, with written comments from community members opposed to the project and public testimony.

Written and Public Testimony to the project was in regards to the projects location not being suitable for a cannabis business in a residential neighborhood. There was also discussion regarding odors and noise being emitted from the project.

At the January 19, 2022 Planning Commission Meeting, Planning Commissioners voted 3-1 to Recommend Denial of a Conditional Use Permit for a 2 Phase Cannabis Cultivation Facility located at 109 L Street also known as APN 0185-111-084-0000 and the adoption of a Mitigated Negative Declaration and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program

On January 25, 2022, the Needles City Council held a duly noticed and advertised public hearing for a conditional use permit for a 2 phase cannabis cultivation facility located at 109 “L” street also known as APN 0185-111-084-0000; and the adoption of a mitigated negative declaration and mitigation monitoring and reporting program, Resolution 2022-11.

Testimony was taken from multiple members of the public and surrounding property owners and residents who oppose the General Plan Amendment from a Residential Medium Density (RM) designation to an Industrial Designation and a proposed zone change from Multi-Family Residential (R-3) to Light Manufacturing (M-1) for the parcel located at 109 L Street also known as APN 0185-111-084-0000 on the grounds that the location is not appropriate for the uses that are associated with an Industrial General Plan Designation and a Light Manufacturing Zoning because it would adversely impact and destroy the character of the historic residential neighborhood, would not be in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood and residential properties and would adversely impact property values of surrounding parcels

Council voted to deny the General Plan Amendment from a Residential Medium Density (RM) designation to an Industrial designation and deny the proposed Zone Change from Multi-Family Residential (R-3) to Light Manufacturing (M-1) for the parcel located at 109 L Street also Known as APN 0185-111-084-0000.

The Project Site cannot receive a Conditional Use Permit for cultivation facility without the proposed General Plan Amendment and the Zone Change at the Site. The Site is located within the Multi-Family Residential (R-3) zone, per City Council Ordinance No. 629-AC, allowing cannabis cultivation in only zones C-1, C-2, C-3, M-1 and M-2 with the approval of a Conditional Use Permit and a Regulatory Permit. The parcel is zoned Multi-Family Residential (R-3) and designated Residential (Medium Density) under the General Plan land use designation which does not allow for cannabis businesses to operate.

*** Findings: ***

  • A: That the requested permit is not within its jurisdiction according to the table of permissible uses.
  • FINDING: The proposed project, which includes the cultivation of cannabis, is zoned Multi-Family Residential (R-3) which does not permit cannabis cultivation with a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and a Regulatory Permit in accordance with Ordinance No. 629-AC.

 

  • B: The Application is Complete
  • FINDING: The applicant has submitted a complete application and has provided the required Site, Floor, Elevation, Rendering and Landscape Plans for the proposed development for the construction of a two-phase, two building, Building A and B, with a total structure area of 21,500 square feet indoor cannabis cultivation facility, which have been incorporated into this Staff Report (Figures 2 and 3). The project proposes up to 10,589 square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation (a total structure area of 21,500 square feet).

 

  • C: The development is not in general conformity with the Needles General Plan.
  • FINDING: The proposed project, which includes the cultivation of cannabis, is currently located in a Residential Medium Density (RM) land use designation. The land use designation is not consistent with uses identified in the General Plan designation through the adoption of Ordinance No. 629-AC, which allows for cultivation facilities to operate within a C1, C2, C3, MI, and M2 designated zone, thereby making the project inconsistency with the General Plan.

 

  • D: The development is not in harmony with the area in which it is located.
  • FINDING: The Project proposes to operate cultivation activities within two separate metal buildings on the 1.24-acre parcel with up to 10,589 square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation (a total structure area of 21,500 square feet). The Project is located in a primarily residential neighborhood surrounded by residential uses and as proposed would introduce inconsistent industrial uses which would adversely affect surrounding property values and would not be in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood or existing residential property uses and zoning. The proposed project is inconsistent with the uses occurring in the vicinity of the project site.

 

  • E: The development will materially endanger the public health or safety.
  • FINDING: The Project Site is located in a developed area of the City with residential structures, sidewalks, streets, and power poles all immediately adjacent. The proposed project would adversely impact and cause disturbances to the public health, safety and welfare in that it would cause unwanted noise, odors, dust, traffic and commercial activity and uses in a historic residential neighborhood.

 

  • F: The development will substantially injure the value of adjoining or abutting properties.
  • FINDING: The Project Site will include cultivation activities within two separate metal buildings on the 1.24-acre parcel with up to 10,589 square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation (a total structure area of 21,500 square feet) in Multi-Family Residential (R-3) zone and historic residential neighborhood. The proposed project would substantially injure the value of adjoining or abutting properties.

The Project Site location is not appropriate for the uses that are associated with the Project Site because it would destroy the character of the historic residential neighborhood and would not be in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood and residential properties.

Significant testimony was taken from the community and the council on the grounds the Project Site is not an appropriate area for a cannabis cultivation and is not properly zoned. The parcels surrounding the project site to the north, east, and south contain single-story residences, generally 15 to 20 feet in height. The project site is also within 550 feet of Ed Parry Park, which is located to the southeast of the Project.

As for the public notification, the City of Needles said in the documents that a public hearing notice was only published in the Needles Desert Star on January 12, 2022, posted in two conspicuous locations within the city and mailed to property owners within 300′ of the project site.

As for the fiscal impact, the City of Needles said in the documents there is no fiscal impact.

  • 1: The 10% of gross sales of medical marijuana business tax (voter approved (2012).
  • 2: Valuation of new buildings — added to city tax rolls.
  • 3: NPUA electric/water/sewer usage revenue.
  • 4: Recurring business license and permitting fees.
  • 5: A 15% State tax — a portion of which will be passed to local government, as enacted by the approval of Proposition 64 in November 2016.
  • 6: Statewide 10% sales tax, the city’s share is 1%.

 

As for the environmental, the City of Needles said in the documents that pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the attached Initial Study (IS)/Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) was prepared to analyze the potential environmental effects of the project (Attachment 2).

*** An Initial Study was required for the following reasons: ***

  • 1: the project site was not considered to be infill due to its location;
  • 2: the site is relatively undisturbed and was therefore subject to an analysis of biological and cultural resources.

Based on the findings contained in that Initial Study, City Staff determined that, with the implementation of mitigation measures, there would be no substantial evidence that the project would have a significant effect on the environment, and a preliminary draft IS/MND (“Original MND”) was revised and a Recirculated IS/MND was prepared. A copy of the Final MND is provided.

The Original IS/MND was prepared in February 2019 for the Project and was posted to the City of Needle’s website for public review and consideration. The Project proposed to apply for a general plan amendment (GPA) (from Medium Density Residential to General Commercial), zoning change (from R-3 Multi-Family Residential to C-2 General Commercial), and Conditional Use Permit for proposed indoor cannabis cultivation facilities in accordance with the Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. The Project proposed to operate cultivation activities within up to two separate metal buildings on the 1.24-acre parcel with up to 25,000 square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation.

On March 20, 2019, the City published a Notice of Intent (N01) to Adopt the Original IS/MND. Pursuant to Sections 15072 and 15073 of CEQA Guidelines, the Original IS/MND and NOI was distributed for a 30-day public review period, which ended on April 19, 2019. The Original IS/MND was submitted to the State Clearinghouse and Planning Unit (State Clearinghouse); responsible and trustee agencies; organizations and interested parties; and all parties who requested notice for review and comment in accordance with CEQA.

Subsequent to the public review period but prior to the hearing for the Original IS/MND, the scope of the Project changed. The Project now proposes distribution in addition to cultivation and, instead of changing the land use designation and zone to commercial, is now proposing a change to industrial. The Project proposes to operate cultivation activities within two separate metal buildings on the 1.24-acre parcel with up to 10,589 square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation (a total structure area of 21,500 square feet). The Project proposes to operate distribution facility out of one of the two buildings. The Project proposes to develop the site in two distinct phases, which are described as Phase 1 and Phase 2. Phase 1 includes both cultivation and distribution facilities, while Phase 2 includes additional cultivation facilities.

The Project would require both cannabis cultivation and cannabis distribution licenses. Therefore, the Project is now applying for a general plan amendment to change the land use designation from Medium Density Residential to Industrial, a zoning change from R-3 Multi-Family Residential to M-1 Light Manufacturing, and two Conditional Use Permits for one for cultivation and a second for distribution. As a result of the additions and changes made to the Project and the applications, the City revised the Original IS/MND to analyze the changes to the Project and address the four comment letters received regarding the Original Draft IS/MND (Recirculated MND).The Recirculated IS/MND and Notice of Intent (N01) to Adopt a MND was prepared and posted on the City’s website and circulated to responsible agencies via the State Clearinghouse (SCH #2019039101) and direct mail for a 30-day public review and comment period starting on August 20, 2021.

A Mitigation Monitoring Program (MMP) has also been prepared to ensure implementation of the mitigation measures for the project (Condition 21).

The public review period for comments on the proposed adoption of the Recirculated MND closed on September 20, 2021. Comments were received from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Responses these comments are responded to in the Final Recirculated MND in signified by strikeouts (strikeouts) where text is removed and by underlined font (underlined font) where text is added. These changes do not constitute new significant information that would require the revision and recirculation of the Recirculated MND.

Pursuant to AB 52 and SB 18, the City completed the tribal consultation process for the proposed project. Consultation consisted of sending out letters to tribes that had previously requested consultation; notification letters were sent to five tribes.

The 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians provided a response stating that they currently had no concerns but requested any cultural reports related to the project site. The cultural report was appended to the Recirculated IS/MND. The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe (FMIT) also provided a response with questions regarding water use, dust control, project lifetime, and permits. The Draft MND included mitigation requiring a Tribal monitor be present at the site ground-disturbance phases of the project (Condition 67). The City responded to their letter on November 23, 2020 and stated the City was available to meet with the FMIT to further discuss concerns and provide the City with any additional information they believed applicable to the Project. The FMIT did not provide a response and, as a result, consultation was deemed complete.

As the Project requires an amendment to the General Plan, the City of Needles is required to consult with local tribes as the CEQA lead agency pursuant to both AB 52 and SB 18. The Project has been referred to the tribes in conformance with both AB 52 and SB 18.

The recommended action to members of the Needles City Council is to approve Resolution 2022-20 Denying a Conditional Use Permit for a 2 Phase Cannabis Cultivation Facility located at 109 L Street also known as APN 0185-111-084-0000.

*** Agenda Packet for Agenda Item 8(A) (Unless otherwise noted, all downloadable agenda packets that are posted here are in a PDF file format so please make sure to have a PDF file reader or viewer): ***

CC-8a-020822 – CUP Denial Cultivation 109 L

  • Regarding Public Hearing Agenda Item 8(B): A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Needles Denying a Conditional Use Permit for a 440 Sq. Ft. Cannabis Distribution Facility located at 109 L Street also known as APN 0185-111-084-0000:

According to documents from the City of Needles, the applicant, Mark Hannawi, is proposing the construction of a cannabis distribution facility, comprised of two (2) separate steel buildings, Building A and B, constructed in two phases, with a total structure area of 21,500 square feet, each building with a dimension of 50’x215′. The project proposes up to 10,589 square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation (a total structure area of 21,500 square feet). The Project proposes to operate distribution facility in Building A. The project site is currently vacant land, and is approximately 1.25 acres in size, located at 109 N “L” Street in the City of Needles, as shown in Figure 1: Project Area.

Figure 2: Site Plan shows the plans for the building locations and arrangement. The first phase includes the construction of one 10,750 sq. ft. building, Building “A”, and an identical building, Building B, would be constructed within 12 months of completion of the first building, as part of Phase 2… The metal buildings will have a maximum height of 15 feet.

The first building, building A will include three grow rooms and one veg room with a combined total 3,768 sq. ft; a 449 sq. ft cloning room, a 707 sq. ft. dry room, a 389 sq. ft. trim room, two 8-foot by 8-foot American with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible bathroom, a 378-square-foot security room, a 247-square-foot office, a 230-square-foot men’s dressing room, a 230-square-foot women’s dressing room, a 353-square-foot break room, and a data room and an electrical room associated with both the cultivation and distribution operations. The Phase 1 building would also contain a 440-square foot distribution facility, a 353-sqaure-foot secured storage room, and a 172-square-foot vault that exclusively support the distribution activities. A total of 965 square feet of the Phase 1 building is dedicated strictly to distribution operations. A total of 5,313 square feet of the Phase I building is dedicated strictly to the cultivation operation. The remaining 4,472 square feet of the total 10,750 square feet of the Phase 1 building includes common hallways and the rooms that are shared by both operations.

All construction will be completed to the standards of the California Code of Regulations for commercial structures, including the installation of smoke and fire detection alarms. The building will be thoroughly insulated in order to reduce the load on the proposed air conditioning (A/C) systems.

A parking lot will be installed appurtenant to the building with access from L Street. Two ADA parking spots will be designated based on the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design which requires one spot for every twenty-five. Forty parking spaces will be provided, as well as a loading bay for each building. There is sufficient area on the east side of the parcel for these spaces. Cannabis distribution does not fit any of the listed uses in the Needles parking code, and the number of required spaces is based on peak employee shift (Ordinance 427-AC).

State-of-the-art Phresh Filter carbon filtration units will be utilized by the proposed project to remove cannabis odor from any air vented to the exterior (Condition 60). These units have been utilized successfully by other cannabis projects for odor elimination. Hyperfans, or another fan compatible with the filtration units, will be used and sized appropriately for required air circulation inside the facility. Locked dumpsters will be located exterior to the building that will be located within the security perimeter and within a trash enclosure.

Cannabis will be cultivated indoors in soil pots. The project will not include any hydroponic cultivation. Pots will be located in the grow room and will be between 1 gallon and 10 gallons in size. Cannabis plants will be hand-watered to prevent overwatering. The lighting for the plants will be raised or lowered as needed.

Noise generated from ongoing operational activities is limited to air conditioning units located on the exterior of the structures. Ten industrial 4-ton mini-split A/C units are proposed. The exact model is not known, but a couple potential models have sound pressure levels of 76 decibels (dBA) at a standard AHRI measurement distance of 3 feet (Daikin 2018). Up to ten A/C units will be running at any given time during summer months. Even with both structures in use after implementation of Phase 2 of the project, the noise at the property line is not anticipated to be greater than 60 dBA at the property line.

A minimal amount of soil, nutrients and other materials will be temporarily stored in barrels inside the facility. Deliveries will be timed so that all materials delivered will be utilized after only two to three days so that there is no long-term storage required. These will be delivered directly to the project site by a cultivation supplier. Spent soil will be recycled rendering it useless and sent to a licensed disposal facility.

The distribution facility operations will be contained to three rooms within the Phase 1 building. These include a vault, distribution room, and secured storage room. The vault will be used for storage of finished product, tested product ready for distribution, and untested product. The distribution room will be a holding area for finished and packaged goods ready to be shipped, and the secured storage will store finished goods ready for distribution. Product must be stored in secure, vaulted facilities, and the storage rooms would meet these requirements. Distribution staff would use the common rooms, such as dressing rooms and bathrooms, shared with the cultivation operation.

The cultivation operation ends as soon as product is transferred to the distribution operation. Product is typically transferred in 100-lb increments from the cultivator to the distributor. The project will implement a track and trace system as required by the City of Needles and by the State of California. The distributor would be in contact with the dispensaries to which product would be sold. The distributor would package and label cannabis product based on dispensary needs and prepare for transportation. All proper personal protective equipment would be used by distribution operation staff. It is anticipated that the distribution operation will operate 6 hours per day, Monday through Friday. Depending on the cultivation schedule and needs of dispensaries buying cannabis product, distribution of product would occur anywhere from weekly to monthly. No on-site retail sales or manufacturing will be performed. The distribution operation will require a California cannabis distribution license.

Access to the proposed facility will be exclusively from L Street. For security purposes, no public access to the facility will be allowed (Condition 42f). Deliveries will be coordinated with on-site employees and only conducted when employees are present during normal business hours (Condition 76).

The parcel will be lined on the north and south sides with a 6-foot masonry block wall and will be landscaped. The east and west sides, facing the streets, will be fenced with a short stub wall and wrought iron. Gates will be installed facing both streets (Condition 54).

Security cameras will be placed on each exterior corner of each building. Some cameras will be motion-activated and will turn on exterior lights if movement is detected (Condition 42a). Additional interior security system will be used in each of the main spaces. All exterior lighting will comply with the City of Needles lighting standards as outlined in Ordinance 594-AC, amended Chapter 12 of the Needles Municipal Code, and sections §8304(c) and §8304(g) of the California Code of Regulations. All installed lighting will comply with the City’s lighting standards regarding the fixture type, wattage, illumination levels, and shielding, which will moderate any light generated from the project to a level that will not contribute adverse impacts to nighttime views (Condition 19).

The proposed facility will be served by water supplied by the City of Needles. The operational water needs are 5 to 7 acre-feet per year after the build-out of Phase 2. The Applicant (Mr. Hannawi) will need to request a “Will Serve” letter from the City of Needles for the amount of water requested by the operation as part of the local permitting process (Condition 20). The groundwater well the City uses for the water source has sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the proposed project. Water and sanitation needs for the distribution operation consist of water and sewer for bathrooms.

The proposed facility will use City sewer lines for wastewater needs. Each facility will include a reverse osmosis water treatment system that does not employ salt. The system is high capacity and produces treated water at a 1:2 ratio with mineralized wastewater. All cultivation wastewater from the project will be disposed of through an evaporation system consisting of a 2,500-gallon hard plastic tank. Wastewater from the reverse osmosis system will be sent to external hard tanks prior to being sent into the evaporation tank. The black evaporation tank is left with the vents open so that the water will warm and evaporate off as the tank heats up. These tanks are located along the southern edge of the site, close to the southwest corner of the parcel. Alternatively, wastewater will be stored and picked up for treatment by an off site by a septic company, Daniell’s Septic Tank Pumping, that will transport it to a licensed disposal facility. The project will qualify for an exemption under the RWQCB State Water Board Cannabis Cultivation Policy, General Order 2017-0023-DWQ. No mineralized cultivation wastewater will be sent to the City sewer or reclaimed on site. The cultivation water system for the project will be modeled after the system currently used by the Green Acres Group within the City of Needles, which has been designed as a “zero waste” system. The amount of cultivation wastewater from this cultivation system is very minimal, as water is applied to plants in an amount that does not result in any runoff.

The proposed project will use electrical power supplied by the City of Needles Public Utility Authority. The primary use of power will be for A/C and cultivation lighting. The estimated power draw per structure is 170 kilowatts (kW). At full buildout, the total power draw is estimated at 340 kW. Backup generators will be used to power critical processes in the event of a power outage. The distribution operation will also be served by city water and local electrical utilities. The energy usage for distribution activities will be minimal compared to the energy needs for the cultivation operation.

Landscaping is proposed along all edges of the parcel and around the buildings. All landscaping will require minimal maintenance and will include palm trees, native cacti, and other native desert plants in addition to other types of plants that can be sustained by water reclaimed on-site. The project will include a reverse osmosis pre-treatment system with wastewater plumbed to exterior hard tanks for on-site landscaping irrigation, among other uses.

After the completion of Phase 1, the second phase proposes the construction of an additional structure. The timeline proposed for beginning Phase 2 is within a year of installation of the first structure under Phase 1. The second structure will be of identical size (215-foot by 50-foot), adding an additional 10,750 square feet of space for a total structure area of 21,500 square feet. With both buildings in place, the total cultivation area (grow rooms and veg rooms) will be 10,589 square feet. The Phase 2 building also includes a 383-square-foot trim room, a 760- square-foot dry room, a 501-square-foot secured storage room, and a 241-square-foot vault. The Phase 2 building will not include any of the distribution operations. Each of the buildings will have their own A/C units and carbon filtration units and will be able to be independently operated.

Parking areas may be combined, but each will have sufficient capacity for employees and staff and a designated ADA parking space.. Phase I cultivation operations will require a maximum of four employees as well as the facility operator. The operating hours of the cultivation operation will be four to six hours per day during daylight business hours. Proposed hours are between 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. or 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. each day. At full operation after Phase 2 completion, a maximum of 14 people will be on-site each day, including eight employees and two operators, and up to 4 distribution employees.

On May 26, 2020, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 629-AC, allowing cannabis distribution in zones C-1, C-2, C-3, M-1 and M-2 with the approval of a Conditional Use Permit and a Regulatory Permit. The parcel is zoned Multi-Family Residential (R-3) and designated Residential (Medium Density) under the General Plan land use designation. The application proposes a General Plan amendment to change the land use designation to Industrial and a Zoning Change to M-1 Light Manufacturing

The matter was heard before the Planning Commission at the January 19, 2022 meeting, with written comments from community members opposed to the project and public testimony.
Written and Public Testimony to the project was in regards to the projects location not being suitable for a cannabis business in a residential neighborhood. There was also discussion regarding odors and noise being emitted from the project.

At the January 19, 2022 Planning Commission Meeting, Planning Commissioners voted 3-1 to Recommend Denial of the General Plan Amendment from a Residential Medium Density (RM) designation to an Industrial designation and recommended denial for a proposed Zone Change from Multi-Family Residential (R-3) to Light Manufacturing (M-1) for the parcel located at 109 L Street also known as APN 0185-111-084-0000.

The matter was heard before the Planning Commission at the January 19, 2022 meeting, with written comments from community members opposed to the project and public testimony.

Written and Public Testimony to the project was in regards to the projects location not being suitable for a cannabis business in a residential neighborhood. There was also discussion regarding odors and noise being emitted from the project.

At the January 19, 2022 Planning Commission Meeting, Planning Commissioners voted 3-1 to Recommend Denial of a Conditional Use Permit for a 440 Sq. Ft. Cannabis Distribution Facility located at 109 L Street also known as APN 0185-111-084-0000 and the adoption of a Mitigated Negative Declaration and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program
on January 25, 2022, the Needles City Council held a duly noticed and advertised public hearing a conditional use permit for a 440 sq. ft. cannabis distribution facility located at 109 “L” street also known as APN 0185-111-084-0000; and the adoption of a mitigated negative declaration and mitigation monitoring and reporting program, Resolution 2022-12. Testimony was taken from multiple members of the public and surrounding property owners and residents who oppose the General Plan Amendment from a Residential Medium Density (RM) designation to an Industrial Designation and a proposed zone change from Multi-Family Residential (R-3) to Light Manufacturing (M-1) for the parcel located at 109 L Street also known as APN 0185-111-084-0000 on the grounds that the location is not appropriate for the uses that are associated with an Industrial General Plan Designation and a Light Manufacturing Zoning because it would adversely impact and destroy the character of the historic residential neighborhood and would not be in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood and residential properties and would adversely impact property values of surrounding parcels

Council voted to deny the General Plan Amendment from a Residential Medium Density (RM) designation to an Industrial designation and deny the proposed Zone Change from Multi-Family Residential (R-3) to Light Manufacturing (M-1) for the parcel located at 109 “L” Street also known as APN 0185-111-084-0000.

The Project Site cannot receive a Conditional Use Permit for distribution facility without the proposed General Plan Amendment and the Zone Change at the Site. The Site is located within the Multi-Family Residential (R-3) zone, per City Council Ordinance No. 629-AC, allowing cannabis cultivation in only zones C-1, C-2, C-3, M-1 and M-2 with the approval of a Conditional Use Permit and a Regulatory Permit. The parcel is zoned Multi-Family Residential (R-3) and designated Residential (Medium Density) under the General Plan land use designation which does not allow for cannabis businesses to operate.

*** Findings: ***

  • A: That the requested permit is not within its jurisdiction according to the table of permissible
    uses.
  • FINDING: The proposed project, which includes the distribution of cannabis, is zoned Multi-Family Residential (R-3) which does not permit cannabis cultivation with a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and a Regulatory Permit in accordance with Ordinance No. 629-AC.

 

  • B: The Application is Complete
  • FINDING: The applicant has submitted a complete application and has provided the required Site, Floor, Elevation, Rendering and Landscape Plans for the proposed development for the construction of a two-phase, two building, Building A and B, with a total structure area of 21,500 square feet (Figures 2 and 3). The Project proposes to operate distribution facility in Building A. Building A will also have 10,589 square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation (a total structure area of 21,500 square feet).

 

  • C: The development is not in general conformity with the Needles General Plan.
  • FINDING: The proposed project, which includes the distribution of cannabis, is currently located in a Residential Medium Density (RM) land use designation. The land use designation is not consistent with uses identified in the General Plan designation through the adoption of Ordinance No. 629-AC, which allows for distribution facilities to operate within a C1, C2, C3, M1, and M2 designated zone, thereby making the project inconsistency with the General Plan.

 

  • D: The development is not in harmony with the area in which it is located.
  • FINDING: The Project proposes to operate distribution activities within 440 Sq. Ft. out of one of the two separate metal buildings on the 1.24-acre parcel with up to 10,589 square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation (a total structure area of 21,500 square feet). The Project is located in a primarily residential neighborhood surrounded by residential uses and as proposed would introduce inconsistent industrial uses which would adversely affect surrounding property values and would not be in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood or existing residential property uses and zoning. The proposed project is inconsistent with the uses occurring in the vicinity of the project site.

 

  • E: The development will materially endanger the public health or safety.
  • FINDING: The Project Site is located in a developed area of the City with residential structures, sidewalks, streets, and power poles all immediately adjacent. The proposed project would adversely impact and cause disturbances to the public health, safety and welfare in that it would cause unwanted noise, odors, dust, traffic and commercial activity and uses in a historic residential neighborhood.

 

  • F: The development will substantially injure the value of adjoining or abutting properties.
  • FINDING: The Project Site will include distribution activities within one of the two separate metal buildings on the 1.24-acre parcel with up to 10,589 square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation (a total structure area of 21,500 square feet) in a MultiFamily Residential (R-3) zone and historic residential neighobrhood. The proposed project would substantially injure the value of adjoining or abutting properties.

The Project Site location is not appropriate for the uses that are associated with the Project Site because it would destroy the character of the historic residential neighborhood and would not be in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood and residential properties.

Significant testimony was taken from the community and the council on the grounds the Project Site is not an appropriate area for a cannabis cultivation and is not properly zoned. The parcels surrounding the project site to the north, east, and south contain single-story residences, generally 15 to 20 feet in height. The project site is also within 550 feet of Ed Parry Park, which is located to the southeast of the Project.

As for the public notification, the City of Needles said in the documents that a public hearing notice was published in the Needles Desert Star on January 12, 2022, posted in two conspicuous locations within the city and mailed to property owners within 300 feet of the project site.

As for the fiscal impact, the City of Needles said in the documents there is no fiscal impact.

  • 1: The 10% of gross sales of medical marijuana business tax (voter approved (2012).
  • 2: Valuation of new buildings — added to city tax rolls.
  • 3: NPUA electric/water/sewer usage revenue.
  • 4: Recurring business license and permitting fees.
  • 5: A 15% State tax — a portion of which will be passed to local government, as enacted by the approval of Proposition 64 in November 2016.
  • 6: Statewide 10% sales tax, the city’s share is 1%.

 

As for the environmental, the City of Needles said in the documents that pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the attached Initial Study (IS)/Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) was prepared to analyze the potential environmental effects of the project (Attachment 2).

*** An Initial Study was required for the following reasons: ***

  • 1: the project site was not considered to be infill due to its location;
  • 2: the site is relatively undisturbed and was therefore subject to an analysis of biological and cultural resources.

Based on the findings contained in that Initial Study, City Staff determined that, with the implementation of mitigation measures, there would be no substantial evidence that the project would have a significant effect on the environment, and a preliminary draft IS/MND (“Original MND”) was revised and a Recirculated IS/MND was prepared. A copy of the Final MND is provided.

The Original IS/MND was prepared in February 2019 for the Project and was posted to the City of Needle’s website for public review and consideration. The Project proposed to apply for a general plan amendment (GPA) (from Medium Density Residential to General Commercial), zoning change (from R-3 Multi-Family Residential to C-2 General Commercial), and Conditional Use Permit for proposed indoor cannabis cultivation facilities in accordance with the Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. The Project proposed to operate cultivation activities within up to two separate metal buildings on the 1.24-acre parcel with up to 25,000 square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation.

On March 20, 2019, the City published a Notice of Intent (N01) to Adopt the Original IS/MND. Pursuant to Sections 15072 and 15073 of CEQA Guidelines, the Original IS/MND and NOI was distributed for a 30-day public review period, which ended on April 19, 2019. The Original IS/MND was submitted to the State Clearinghouse and Planning Unit (State Clearinghouse); responsible and trustee agencies; organizations and interested parties; and all parties who requested notice for review and comment in accordance with CEQA.

Subsequent to the public review period but prior to the hearing for the Original IS/MND, the scope of the Project changed. The Project now proposes distribution in addition to cultivation and, instead of changing the land use designation and zone to commercial, is now proposing a change to industrial. The Project proposes to operate cultivation activities within two separate metal buildings on the 1.24-acre parcel with up to 10,589 square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation (a total structure area of 21,500 square feet). The Project proposes to operate distribution facility out of one of the two buildings. The Project proposes to develop the site in two distinct phases, which are described as Phase 1 and Phase 2. Phase 1 includes both cultivation and distribution facilities, while Phase 2 includes additional cultivation facilities.

The Project would require both cannabis cultivation and cannabis distribution licenses. Therefore, the Project is now applying for a general plan amendment to change the land use designation from Medium Density Residential to Industrial, a zoning change from R-3 Multi-Family Residential to M-1 Light Manufacturing, and two Conditional Use Permits for one for cultivation and a second for distribution. As a result of the additions and changes made to the Project and the applications, the City revised the Original IS/MND to analyze the changes to the Project and address the four comment letters received regarding the Original Draft IS/MND (Recirculated MND).The Recirculated IS/MND and Notice of Intent (N01) to Adopt a MND was prepared and posted on the City’s website and circulated to responsible agencies via the State Clearinghouse (SCH #2019039101) and direct mail for a 30-day public review and comment period starting on August 20, 2021.

A Mitigation Monitoring Program (MMP) has also been prepared to ensure implementation of the mitigation measures for the project (Condition 21).

The public review period for comments on the proposed adoption of the Recirculated MND closed on September 20, 2021. Comments were received from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Responses these comments are responded to in the Final Recirculated MND in signified by strikeouts (strikeouts) where text is removed and by underlined font (underlined font) where text is added. These changes do not constitute new significant information that would require the revision and recirculation of the Recirculated MND.

Pursuant to AB 52 and SB 18, the City completed the tribal consultation process for the proposed project. Consultation consisted of sending out letters to tribes that had previously requested consultation; notification letters were sent to five tribes.

The 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians provided a response stating that they currently had no concerns but requested any cultural reports related to the project site. The cultural report was appended to the Recirculated IS/MND. The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe (FMIT) also provided a response with questions regarding water use, dust control, project lifetime, and permits. The Draft MND included mitigation requiring a Tribal monitor be present at the site ground-disturbance phases of the project (Condition 67). The City responded to their letter on November 23, 2020 and stated the City was available to meet with the FMIT to further discuss concerns and provide the City with any additional information they believed applicable to the Project. The FMIT did not provide a response and, as a result, consultation was deemed complete.

As the Project requires an amendment to the General Plan, the City of Needles is required to consult with local tribes as the CEQA lead agency pursuant to both AB 52 and SB 18. The Project has been referred to the tribes in conformance with both AB 52 and SB 18.

The recommended action to members of the Needles City Council is to approve Resolution 2022-21 Denying a Conditional Use Permit for a 440 Sq. Ft. Cannabis Distribution Facility located at 109 L Street also known as APN 0185111-084-0000.

*** Agenda Packet for Agenda Item 8(B) (Unless otherwise noted, all downloadable agenda packets that are posted here are in a PDF file format so please make sure to have a PDF file reader or viewer): ***

CC-8b-020822 – CUP Denial Distribution 109 L

For more information, please contact Dale Jones, City Clerk at the City of Needles at: 1 (760) 326-2113.

***

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