Hemp growing rules gain initial OK from Carson City supervisors

The Board of Supervisors on Thursday decided to allow hemp growing inside buildings in industrial zones but not on Carson City’s agricultural land.

Hemp is now a legal crop in Nevada and in May the board put a moratorium on applications to grow it while the city decided where it would allow cultivation.

The Planning Commission recommended the supervisors allow it to be grown outdoors on land zoned agriculture and conservation reserve and indoors on property zoned Limited Industrial, General Industrial, and General Industrial Airport.

“Carson City is different. We don’t have agriculture in the hinterlands, 50 to 60 acres of rolling ag land,” said Mayor-elect Lori Bagwell. “We are pretty constrained here.”

Much of Carson City’s agricultural land has been sold off in pieces for residential development so what remains is usually surrounded by housing developments.

Bagwell and other supervisors who had visited hemp growing operations agreed it produces a pervasive skunk-like odor.

“I toured western Colorado where it is allowed outdoors and there is thousands of acres under cultivation,” said Acting Mayor Brad Bonkowski. “You cannot get away from the odor. It is a public nuisance.”

The board did discuss whether to allow hemp cultivation by right or by special use permit in the industrial zones. Supervisor John Barrette said he would prefer a special use permit, which must be approved by the Planning Commission in a public process.

But, the supervisors decided to include it in permitted uses and if any business violated regulations the remedy would be for the board to revoke its business license.

Hemp cultivators will have to follow the same rules as marijuana growers, which includes odor controls on the process.

The new ordinance will be heard again at the board’s next meeting and not become code until read and passed a second time.

The board convened as the Board of Health and held a lengthy discussion of a lease agreement with Vitality Unlimited.

Vitality provides substance abuse treatment in space leased from the city on the second floor of Carson City Health and Human Services building on Long Street.

The service provider requested a two-year extension on its lease. The health department could use the space and is already leasing space outside the Long Street building for some of its work. But, keeping Vitality in the building also likely keeps the cost of the service down for the city because commercial space Vitality could lease would be more expensive.

The supervisors also said they wanted to ensure that Vitality provide routine reporting, which is a requirement of the lease but has been lax in the past.

Nicki Aakers, director, CCHHS, said the department would work on establishing better measurements and Judith Ricketts-Stookey, western regional programs manager at Vitality, said the service provider would report on them at the weekly meetings they held with CCHHS.

Aakers said there were 57 new COVID-19 cases in Carson City in the last two weeks ending Oct. 10, a 33 percent increase from a rolling two-week period before. Three people were hospitalized and 60 percent who tested positive said they went to work when they were symptomatic.

“We keep trying to reiterate that if you are sick, stay home,” said Aakers.

Stephanie Hicks, deputy city manager, said the city still remains off the list of counties that have to take stricter measures to mitigate the spread of the virus and she did not believe the latest increase in cases would change that.

The board met in the Community Center’s Bob Boldrick Theatre, which is now equipped to broadcast the meetings, while the Sierra Room is renovated. The meetings are still closed to the public, but public comment can be made by email or phone.


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