Pubdate: Wed, 19 Sep 2012
Source: Union, The (Grass Valley, CA)
Copyright: 2012 The Union
Author: Matthew Renda


The Nevada County board of supervisors approved five individuals to 
serve as mediators in cases where medical marijuana growers want to 
appeal an order from the Nevada County Sheriff's Office to abate 
their grow operation.

The appointment will pave the way for the administrative process 
necessary to enforce the controversial medical marijuana ordinance, 
passed by the board of supervisors in May.

Under the ordinance, the NCSO is empowered to serve abatement notices 
requiring property owners growing medical marijuana to destroy their 
plants or alter the grow operation enough to be in compliance with 
the regulations.

If a property owner receives a "Notice to Abate" and feels the notice 
is in error, he has the right to file an appeal, which is heard by a 
"hearing officer."

The five hearing officers appointed Tuesday included two names made 
pubic in advance of the meeting, Victor Ferrera, program manager for 
the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services, and Mike Sypnicki, 
program manager for the county Probation Department, and three names 
that were not.

Jeff Brown, director of the Health and Human Services Agency, was 
appointed along with Debra Corbett and Dave Ruderman, two attorneys.

The three individuals were selected for their experience with due 
process, administrative appeals and their independence from the 
sheriff's office, said Alison Barratt-Green, attorney for Nevada County.

Attorney Jeffrey Lake, who represents the Americans for Safe Access 
Nevada County in ongoing litigation with the county over the medical 
marijuana nuisance ordinance, was sharply critical of the board's 
decision, before and after the meeting.

He questioned the board regarding the application process, how the 
candidates were selected and whether the pubic was invited to provide 
input on the selection process. Lake also questioned the pace of the 
appointments, saying the board should not have appointed three people 
who were not presented to the public in advance of the meeting, 
during public comment.

"Either they are deliberately attempting to ambush us, or it is a 
dereliction of their duty to be prepared," Lake said following the 
meeting. "It's irresponsible to approve individuals that were not 
fully vetted."

Supervisor Nate Beason bristled at the suggestion that the board 
should have included the public in the appointment process, saying 
governing boards at every level of government have discretion with 

He further stated the county used the template formed in other 
similar administrative hearing scenarios throughout the county 
government, including code compliance.

"I am very comfortable with this," Beason said.

Supervisor Terry Lamphier abstained from voting on the issue, citing 
dissatisfaction with the answers provided regarding the funding of 
the appeals process, the qualifications established for selection of 
hearing officers and how the process will function.

NCSO Under-Sheriff Joe Salivar said deputies have issued 27 abatement 
notices since the ordinance took effect in May. Of the individuals 
served, 11 have filed an appeal.

The ordinance stipulates an appeal must be heard within 30 days of 
being filed, so the county would like to begin the hearing process by 
the end of September, Salivar said.
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