The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors meeting begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the board’s chambers on the fourth floor of the County Administration Center at 2 S. Green St. in Sonora.

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors will consider passing an urgency ordinance at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday that would significantly reduce the number of people who could grow marijuana outdoors on their property for non-commercial, personal use.

Pro-cannabis activist Kira Tucker described the proposed regulations on personal cultivation as a “ban lite,” because more than 60 percent of growers surveyed by the Tuolumne Cannabis Alliance at the end of last year’s growing season would no longer be allowed to do so.

Regulations approved by the board in February 2016 have allowed people in the unincorporated area of the county to grow between 12 and 24 plants outdoors on their property as long as they have a valid doctor’s recommendation.

In November, the board directed county staff to draft a new ordinance on both medical and recreational cannabis cultivation for personal use that would reduce the maximum number of plants to six and ban people in most residential zoning districts from growing outdoors.

People in residential-estate zoning districts, which contain properties at least one acre in size, and certain agricultural districts would be allowed to grow up to six plants outdoors or inside.

County staff stated the current regulations that allow between 12 and 24 plants to be grown outdoors “created conflicts and nuisances for neighborhoods, especially in the residential zoning districts,” during the 2017 grow season.

More than 200 people attended the meeting on Nov. 14 at the Sonora Opera Hall where the board opted to direct staff to draft an ordinance with tougher restrictions on cannabis cultivation for personal use.

Many of the people who spoke at the meeting in November expressed concerns about cannabis cultivation, including opposition to it being allowed in residential neighborhoods.

If four out of five supervisors approve the urgency ordinance on Tuesday, it would go into effect immediately and expire on April 6. The board could hold another public hearing to extend the ordinance for up to 22 months and 15 days, according to the report by county staff.

An identical ordinance that would make the new restrictions permanent will also be considered by the Tuolumne County Planning Commission at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The board is scheduled to consider the permanent ordinance on March 6 for it to become effective on April 5.

County staff stated in its report that the recommendation for an immediate urgency ordinance was made because there are concerns about the grow season beginning early due to the unseasonably warm weather this winter.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting before the public hearing on cannabis regulations, the board will consider setting aside $975,000 and issuing a call for bids on a project to install a traffic light at the intersection of Fifth Avenue, Jamestown Road and Highway 108.

The total project would cost more than $3 million and be funded almost entirely through traffic impact mitigation fees.

A public hearing is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. for the board to consider approving plans to issue $24 million in lease revenue bonds for Law and Justice Center and technology projects.

The county would essentially lease four of its buildings — the County Administration Center, the A.N. Francisco Building at 48 Yaney Ave., the Historic Courthouse at 41 Yaney Ave., and the Tuolumne County Library main branch at 480 Greenley Road — for up to 31 years.

The county would maintain full use of the buildings by leasing them back and paying rent equal to the debt service on the bonds.

About $19 million of the amount being borrowed will go toward final improvements on the Mother Lode Regional Juvenile Facility, development of Justice Center Drive and utility infrastructure, and cover the county’s share for the cost of construction on the new $40 million jail that’s set to begin construction next month.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.




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