Pubdate: Wed, 12 Mar 2014
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 Sun Media
Author: Monte Sonnenberg


Legal grow-op sites up for debate

Interest in growing marijuana in Norfolk on an industrial scale
remains high.

Unnamed parties are working to convert the former Caswell Dairy at the
intersection of highways 3 and 24 in Simcoe into a facility for
producing medical marijuana.

Norfolk planning staff let the proposal slip in a report this week on
the county's new comprehensive zoning bylaw. The report specifically
asks Norfolk council to zone 469 Norfolk Street North as a permitted
property for marijuana production.

Jim McIntosh, Norfolk's manager of community planning, said the zoning
has been requested because proponents of the plan have worked
extensively with the county while preparing their application.

"It's bad form to tell somebody that everything is OK and then have to
say later that we've pulled the rug out from under you," McIntosh said.

Misners of Port Dover planned to relocate its seafood business to the
Simcoe building six years ago but got side-swiped in 2008 when the
global economy tanked. The former dairy is now for sale.

Norfolk council hosted a public meeting under the Planning Act Tuesday
where the third draft of the new zoning bylaw was tabled for discussion.

Staff has recommended allowing facilities for the production of
medical marijuana in Norfolk in industrial and agricultural zones.

Whether farms end up as allowable areas remains to be seen. New Health
Canada regulations take effect April 1 requiring licensed facilities
to be highly secure and contained indoors. The Norfolk OPP wants legal
grow-ops confined to industrial areas as far removed from residential
and institutional uses as possible.

Simcoe Coun. Peter Black, a member of Norfolk's Police Services Board,
suggests eliminating agricultural areas as candidates for Health
Canada licensing. Representatives of the Norfolk OPP are scheduled to
say more about the issue at the March 18 meeting of council.

In light of complaints from rural residents about activity at licensed
production facilities in the Norfolk countryside, Simcoe Coun. Charlie
Luke is also leaning in the direction of restricting operations to
industrial zones. The new indoor security provisions, Luke noted,
eliminate the possibility of producing medical marijuana on farmland.

"I have no idea now why these operations should be on agricultural
land or even if they should be," Luke said. "I'm having trouble
justifying why we would extend it beyond these industrial zones. I
would like to hear first-hand the concerns of the OPP. I will not
support it in the agricultural zone until I hear from the OPP. They're
the ones who have to follow up on complaints. This is our one chance
to get it right."

Planning staff has suggested a 70-metre setback for legal grow
operations from homes, schools and settled areas. Langton Coun. Roger
Geysens suggested this is inadequate. Geysens noted that 70 metres
works out to about 220 feet.

"I'm not sure that's enough distance," he said. "I would like to see
something like 100 metres or 150 metres from a residence or a school."

Norfolk's zoning bylaw is a work in progress. Tuesday's public meeting
lasted more than four hours. Staff has been directed to incorporate
approved changes into a fourth draft which will be considered at a
future meeting.
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