HANFORD — The Hanford City Council met Tuesday night and it seems cannabis will be a reemerging issue in the coming New Year.
The first City Council meeting in December after an election is normally reserved for the “changing of the guard,” where newly-elected Council members take their oaths of office. This year, however, due to new election laws, results must first be certified by the Kings County Board of Supervisors, which will take place at the board’s Dec. 11 meeting.
So the current City Council had the opportunity to serve on the dais once last time together before the three new members take their oaths of office at the regularly scheduled Dec. 18 meeting.
On the agenda for the evening was a request from Genezen Hanford LLC for additional time to apply for a conditional use permit and cannabis business permit.
Genezen was one of the three cannabis businesses that were awarded the opportunity to get cannabis permits in November 2017. The company was awarded the opportunity to obtain 17 cannabis permits, including 14 cultivation permits, one distribution permit and one manufacturing permit.
Community Development Director Darlene Mata said when the city awards permits, it is expected that the companies then pursue conditional use permits and building permits in their continuing development efforts.
However, Mata said after Genezen was awarded the permits, the city did not hear from the company for almost one year. Recently, Genezen sent the city a letter requesting additional time to apply for a conditional use permit.
“Normally [with] most of our permits we expect some effort to be done in that 12-month period, and we did not see any effort during that time,” Mata said of Genezen.
Mata said the two other cannabis companies who were awarded permits —Caliva and Premium Extracts — both pursued and obtained their conditional use permits and one is moving forward with applying for a building permit.
In its letter, Genezen asked Council to give the company until Dec. 31 to apply for a conditional use permit.
While Council members expressed their disappointment in Genezen officials for waiting this long to get back in contact with the city, Council voted 4-1, with Councilwoman Diane Sharp as the only “no” vote, to allow the extension, with the caveat that Genezen apply for both a conditional use permit and temporary cannabis permit and pay the necessary fees involved.
“Glad they’re still around,” Councilman Justin Mendes said.
If Genezen does not follow through, the company would lose the permits it was awarded by the city and would have to reapply for them, if the city were to open up the permit application process again next year. Going through the process again would cost the company thousands of dollars in application fees.
Additionally, now that Measure C — which established a cannabis business tax in the city that would be levied on the cannabis businesses — has passed, Mata said she has gotten several inquiries from interested parties asking if the city will open up the application process for additional cannabis permits.
She said she anticipates bringing the issue, along with new state laws and changes, back to Council in January 2019.