Originally Published: July 29, 2016 6 a.m.
Prescott Valley Town Councilmember Lora Lee Nye faced a dilemma. The council was about to vote on allowing a second medical marijuana cultivation facility to set up inside of town limits. She is personally against the plant’s use. She also knows that refusing a permit for a state-recognized legal business that is in full compliance with zoning laws is illegal.
“I’m acutely aware of the broad misuse of medical marijuana,” Nye said. “I cannot in good conscience vote yes.”
She abstained during the Thursday, July 14 vote. The rest of the council, which was missing Mayor Harvey Skoog who was absent, approved the application of William Stevens, principal for business management services international.
According to Town Planner Carmen Ogden, the project is proposed medical marijuana cultivation facility is for an approximate 8.5 acre parcel in the Big Sky Industrial Park north of Valley Road between Enterprise Parkway and Fain Road.
“The current classification is M1-PAD, industrial general limited planned area development,” Ogden said, noting that usage of the area is allowed as a matter of right in the C3 zoning district. “The current zoning classification and underlying land use designation are the appropriate designations for this use.”
Medical marijuana was narrowly approved by the state’s voters in 2010, Ogden reminded the council, adding that it provides for medical use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by and for those with debilitating medical conditions. Municipalities are authorized by the AMMA to adopt reasonable zoning restrictions that limit the use of land for registered cultivation facilities to specific areas, she said.
Standards for medical marijuana grow facilities in Prescott Valley were developed through the passage of Ordinance 753, Ogden said. The Town Code states that the maximum floor are of the cultivation facility is not to exceed 3,000 square feet except in the case of an expansion approved through the Board of Adjustments, she said. Stephens had applied for and was granted an expansion approval on June 27, Ogden said.
Stevens spoke before the Board of Adjustments saying that he currently has a 10,000 square foot grow facility in Phoenix, but that his business has outgrown that location. With the possibility that Arizona voters will approve recreational marijuana in November, he foresees demand increasing. The state does not allow a grower to operate two cultivation facilities at the same time, he said.
There will be two phases in the project’s development, Ogden said. Two greenhouses will be built immediately, each more than 20,000 square feet in size. Two additional greenhouses of the same size could be added a year later.
“The facility will be developed in accordance with all town and state regulations, which provide for standards relating to building security and lighting throughout the facility,” she said, adding that the development plan in in compliance with the Prescott Valley General Plan and all applicable town codes. “The proposed plan provides adequate onsite parking and circulation and will substantially comply with the submitted plan.”
Benefits to the town from the approval of the facility include the collection and transaction of privilege taxes associated with its construction and operation, Ogden said.
The application and request was approved without questions from the council.