Roswell City Council’s Finance Committee on Monday voted to recommend a proposed fee schedule for licensing cannabis companies. This June 17 file photo shows cannabis plants in a grow room at the Greenleaf Medical Cannabis Plant in Richmond, Virginia. (AP Photo)
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Roswell city councils considered a proposed fee rate for the cannabis business licensing process after discussing whether the fees would be sufficient for the city to cover its expenses and whether they could be viewed as a penalty.
The city council’s finance committee voted 3-0 for the proposed fee schedule at its meeting on Monday morning in the town hall. The deputy chairman of the committee, Juan Oropesa, was absent. The meeting of the committee has been postponed from the usual Thursday meeting due to the New Mexico League of Municipalities annual conference, which takes place the rest of the week in Albuquerque.
The fee structure for the cannabis license will be discussed by the full council at its meeting on September 9th.
The city council approved a new chapter of the city rules last month specifically dealing with cannabis regulations. As the state begins processing applications for cannabis producers and cannabis-producing micro-businesses on Wednesday, local governments are trying to introduce their own regulations by then. The proposed fees are among the first changes the city is considering adding Chapter 27 of the city rules.
“Right now, the cost of processing a cannabis permit is extremely high, well above a traditional permit. These are incredibly complex facilities. They require multiple levels of review, ”Kevin Maevers, director of community development, told the committee.
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“It takes a lot of time and effort,” he said, adding that building inspectors recently attended a conference in Albuquerque on inspection requirements for cannabis companies.
The suggested fees include a $ 850 pre-screening, which is required for any type of cannabis business. The concept is actually part of a process to streamline all types of permits, Maevers said, and includes a meeting with the business developer and several city council directors.
After a review of the project, the developer will have a list of the city’s requirements to process their formal application, he said.
Other fees include a zone change request. The regulations the city enacted last month establish floating zones for commercial cannabis and industrial cannabis within the urban commercial or C-2 zone and the heavy industrial or I-2 zone. A developer would apply to CCAN or ICAN for a zone change for a particular property. Fees would be between $ 400 and $ 1,000 for up to 5 acres. For a location of 10 acres or more, an additional $ 50 per acre would be charged.
A site plan review, which would be required for all cannabis projects, would follow the same fee structure as the zone change fee. There is a $ 850 fee for conditional use permit applications.
Site survey technical reviews – which could include plans for business operations, site safety, green waste disposal, air quality and odor control, and sanitation – would each cost $ 250.
“The engineering studies are required because of the very complex and potential environmental, social and tax implications of these projects,” said Maevers.
He said, for example, that a site security plan is needed since cannabis companies are only cash companies. Cannabis is still an illegal drug under federal law, so many state-regulated banks avoid doing business in the cannabis industry.
“All the money comes in, all the money goes out again. They have a high theft potential, ”said Maevers.
Environmental controls must also be in place, he said. Green waste from industrial producers can contain traces of THC and must therefore be disposed of separately from conventional green waste.
A lack of air quality and odor control measures has negatively impacted California communities, Maevers said, with some cities losing rights to professional golf tournaments due to odors.
Water from greenhouses and indoor growing facilities is also of concern, he said.
“These contain nitrates and other things that are in them. The water needs to be recycled, it needs to be recovered and then the wastewater needs to be properly disposed of. We don’t have a system here in the city to dump industrial drains directly into our sewer system, ”he said.
Applications for regulatory approvals for an industrial cannabis store would be $ 750 and for a retail store it would be $ 950. This would mirror the state’s regulatory approval system, Maevers said, and would ensure the city knows who is running the cannabis business.
“We need to make sure that the right people, good people, run these facilities and have the opportunity to get licenses to be admitted,” he said.
An on-site consumption permit would be $ 550 and a special event permit would be $ 750.
A development agreement would cost $ 1,500 and allow the gradual introduction of necessary public improvements.
“Many of these facilities are unable to pay for many of the public improvements, at least not in advance,” Maevers said.
The development agreement would include multiple departments, including the community development and engineering departments, as well as a legal review and a city manager review before it can proceed, Maevers said, which is why this fee is so high.
The other fees include the cost of notifying public hearings and appeals.
It is likely that more changes to fees related to the review and inspection of buildings will be presented to the city council and committees in the coming months, Maevers said.
Maevers responded to a question from committee chairman Jason Perry that the fees were determined by the time it would take middle employees to work on the permits. He began by saying that he and other high-level employees will likely need to work with staff to train them on procedures.
“However, I assume that after two or three projects we will get used to it and I will be able to train my team.
Councilor Jacob Roebuck said he was in favor of the fee schedule because he didn’t see cannabis companies bringing a lot of tax revenue to the city.
“If we don’t get the fees back that way, I don’t think we will get the money that goes into them back through taxes,” he said.
Roebuck and Perry said they thought the fees were fair, especially given the amount of work city workers and councilors have already put into drafting regulations.
“I want to make it clear that this is not of a punitive nature. The reason for this is to cover costs and also to protect the economic welfare of the city, ”said Roebuck.
Perry asked if the fees, while higher than the fees for other permits, would be enough to cover the city’s expenses.
“It’s hours, time taken by everything else,” said Perry. “I think we need to get to a (cost) reimbursement place.”
Maevers said that as the city gains more information about the actual process, it is possible for fees to be adjusted and tightened, but care must be taken to ensure that increases are not viewed as a penalty, especially by the state government.
“I think if we take a significant blow we may get to the point where we are right on that threshold and act punishing, or maybe even exceed it, depending on who the applicant is,” Maevers said.
City / RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, extension. 205 or email@example.com.