It was another full house at the final Caliente City Council meeting of 2017 as marijuana was once again the hot topic.
Public comment was opened with Bert Cox taking the floor. He made comments on the Bike Park Project, saying, “I have been able to work on it some and I think it’s a great idea, but I think we need some continued support on it. It’s a great concept if we can get the people coming here. It’s got to be maintained and taken care of long enough to get people here and have a good experience.”
Cox mentioned that Ken Dixon was struggling with finding enough money to spray for puncture vines and weeds and said the project is a little on the short side of what it needs to maintain it. “People come here and get flat tires in 30 minutes, and it’s not going to be a pleasurable experience. I think we have one shot getting most people in here.”
Cox then mentioned how brother-in-law Warren Eizman and Brandon Burkhart with Clover Creek Organics, LLC were trying to go after a cultivation of marijuana permit. Cox said the debate is no longer on whether it should be legal. “It is legal, and it’s here, and there is nothing to stop the people to buy it in Vegas and bring it here.”
Cox said that the permit is for cultivation and not selling locally. He also talked about the need Caliente has for jobs and revenue and his confidence that this project will bring in both. “If we can create a million-dollar revenue for the city of Caliente every year, think of the benefit 55 jobs can do for businesses.”
Wes Holt spoke next on how marijuana cultivation might affect the Caliente Youth Center. He commented that the state of Nevada in the last two or three years has tried to move the youth center to Las Vegas or someplace else closer to the parents of the children. “Do you think if marijuana is legalized in Caliente it would be easier to move the center? Will that cost more jobs than we have coming in?”
Eizman responded, “We’re involved in a legalized business; it’s legal in the state of Nevada. I compare it to how we used to sell alcohol at our convenience store. We have a need in the area for more funds.”
Turning to Cox, Holt asked if Cox was financially involved in the project, and Cox responded yes. Holt asked if Cox would be willing to give the city a promissory note. “Can we take your property and sell it for the million dollars the city is supposed to get? Are you willing to tie up your house and property?”
City attorney Dylan Frehner told them they had to finish this after the meeting, as it was public comment, not the time for discussion. Holt concluded by saying he is personally opposed to it, having had a son that died from drugs.
On to the items on the agenda.
The first reading of Bill #2017-02 Ordinance #183, an ordinance amending Title 4 of the Caliente Code to add to Chapter 9, pertaining to recreational marijuana establishments and setting forth the procedures, regulations, and requirements for the issuance of a marijuana establishment licenses; establishing fees and taxes required for such licenses; setting forth the provisions for renewal of such licenses and other matters properly related, thereto was read. Support material for this was provided.
Councilman John Ahlstrom had questions about sales, stating that some of these are cash only, so how would transactions be verified? Frehner said that was through the Department of Taxation and that the business would be required to have barcodes on every single plant.
Brenda Northup told the council that her role with Clover Creek is production manager, to oversee the application process as they go forward, and she is Prospective CFO and HR Compliance Manager for the company. She said she has been watching the compliance issue and the state of Nevada does require a seed-to-sale tracking method. They have a mandated that companies have software to track and trace all products including the plant, whether recreational or medical. Each plant has a microchip in it that is tracked 100 percent through sales.
“Once the product leaves our facility it is tracked by another licensed person who is allowed to transport it, and it is tracked from there; everything is computerized.”
Ahlstrom asked if it was possible that someone could do something that was not state verified, controlled, or regulated. Northup said everything is going to be very secure. “No one is allowed on site unless they have a Marijuana Established Agent card, which is mandated by the state. So only those who are authorized and vetted are allowed to hold these cards.”
The council went on to discuss approving or denying a conditional use for Warren Eizman/Clover Creek Organics, LLC, to cultivate cannabis on zoned agricultural.
Mayor Tommy Rowe said he had called Mike Wilden at the governor’s office and asked if he thought that this business would have a negative effect on the Youth Center and whether he thought that anything would have a stigma. He was told that it would make no difference at all. As far as the state was concerned, especially with it being outside of town, there would be no questions at all.
The mayor asked for a motion. Councilman Victor Jones made a motion to approve on the condition that the landowner come in and sign the needed paperwork, and Rowe seconded. Jones and Rowe voted “aye,” with Ahlstrom and Christensen voting “nay,” noting that it was a good plan, but that they voted on moral grounds, not wanting to support it and for the people who oppose it.
Rowe broke the tie to approve.
Next on the agenda was to approve or deny a conditional business license for Warren Eizman/Clover Creek Organics, LLC, to cultivate cannabis within the city limits. The action was approved along the same voting lines.
Also discussed was approving or denying a conditional business license for Todd Davis/Caliente Development Company, LLC, to cultivate cannabis within city limits. When they came to the last meeting, their location was next to the Industrial Park. With the proposed ordinance of a two-mile radius from town, if passed, it would have to find a new location.
Jones made a motion to approve the conditional business license with conditions that followed with the proposed ordinance. Rowe seconded. Rowe, as mayor, broke the tie voting to approve.
Next was approving or denying a conditional business license for John Goss to cultivate cannabis within the city limits and wanting to add the business name MJ Distributing, Inc. for reference. Their location, 15171 State Route 317, is not in the city limits, but John Huston, who had started the process, then stopped, has started again. To be annexed, the land has to be continuous connected to city property.
Frehner stated that there are a lot of breaks and doesn’t know if it can happen. Rowe said that seeing that they had approved the others, they should approve this one with the same conditions. Jones seconded and once again, Rowe broke the tie to approve.
All councilmen voted to approve waiving December utility late fees.
The first reading of Bill #2017-03 Ordinance #184 occurred. The bill would annexx APN 013-110-07, approximately 40 acres owned by Burt and Natalie Cox, into the city limits. Cox wanted to request that the property be zoned industrial.
The next meeting will be Jan. 4.