Pubdate: Sat, 09 Jul 2011
Source: Paradise Post (CA)
Copyright: 2011 Paradise Post
Author: Paul Wellersdick


The Paradise Planning Commission approved a draft medical marijuana
ordinance Thursday evening with minimal changes from the 12 -page
staff-drafted document.

The draft will be presented to the Paradise Town Council for its
consideration and approval at a later date. During the public hearing
on the ordinance, a few citizens had concerns with the draft. One
concern was from former school board candidate and expectant mother
Rachelle Zuccolillo. Key among her concerns was the fact that the
town's ordinance doesn't limit growing medical marijuana within a
school zone.

Town Attorney Dwight Moore said further restrictions would open the
town to more legal challenges. He favored keeping only the normal
setbacks required in residential zones - a minimum of 75 feet from an
inhabited neighboring property. However, the State of California
Health And Safety Code Section 11362.7-11362.83 states that it is
illegal to grow medical marijuana within 600 feet of a school or use
it within 1,000 feet unless used inside the residence, according to

The town's draft ordinance is prefaced by a statement to be consistent
with the H&S code 11362.7. Planning commissioner-elect Michael
Zuccolillo also had some concerns about the draft, including adding
the requirement for a locked and secured fence and gate around
residential grows. The suggestion was one the planning commission
added to the ordinance.

Only one other major change was made to the ordinance in the roughly
hour-long, low-attended meeting. The commission overturned a staff
recommendation and instead required two complaints within 14 days to
initiate an administrative and public hearing process to mitigate
nuisances. Staff had recommended three complaints in 14 days to ease
the burden on a limited town staff - namely, the single code
enforcement officer and few available police officers.

If found to be a nuisance the garden would have to be mitigated within
a set time or face fines. Commissioner Jody Jones was a proponent of
the trigger being set at two complaints, and said the overall draft
was the most balanced and legally stout ordinance she'd read. The
town's authority to regulate medical marijuana, made legal by the 1996
"compassionate use act," Proposition 215, was through zoning laws.

Many of the principles for governing the cultivation, use and
distribution of the drug were borrowed from animal control laws,
including the two most talked about issues Thursday - setbacks and
nuisance complaints. The ordinance was crafted to balance the needs of
legitimate medical marijuana patients and the rights of a healthy
public. Moore said both parties have rights, and he went to lengths to
consider current case law and the voter-approved medical marijuana
laws to strike that balance.

One of the key concerns of the public has been the potential for
violent crimes in neighborhoods. The case in point for that fear was
the 2008 home invasion robbery and murder of Paradise man Eric Jones
at his Azalea Lane home. He was allegedly targeted for his cooperative
garden where he was growing for multiple patients.

Law enforcement say cooperative grows are easier targets for
criminals. The biggest attempt to curb medical marijuana theft is the
ordinance's limiting of cooperative grows to the three-street
industrial park on the south end of Clark Road.

Other restrictions require permits to grow the drug indoors and limit
the square footage of the gardens rather than the number of plants.
For the few industrial gardens, the town sets a limit of no more than
25 percent of the total floor area, but in no event greater than 1,500
square feet. Also, the industrial growers could not be within 500 feet
of each other or within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and other
recreational facilities and child-populated places.

For the home gardener, no more than 50 square feet is allowed in the
back or side yard behind a locked, secure six-foot, solid fence. Those
residential gardens cannot be within 50 feet of an undeveloped
property or 75 feet of another home. The draft is a "living document"
acting chair April Grossberger said and could be changed if problems
arise. The draft passed 3-1 with comissioner Greg Bolin dissenting. He
said he would've preferred to limit growing to outdoor gardens in
greenhouses with air purification systems.

"I don't know how the marijuana is not going to stink up the
neighborhood," he said.
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