Nevada County Cannabis Policy Updates!

Over the past 12 months, the Alliance has been persistent in our advocacy to reduce costly barriers to entry and to create greater efficiencies throughout the permitting process. We stand strong in our dedication to ensuring farmers have an accessible pathway to transition into the licensed cannabis industry. Earlier this month, county staff released four policy memos that represent a dedication by the county to work with the industry in creating greater access to permitting. We are incredibly grateful to county staff for listening to the voice of the community, and for their collaboration, as we continue to advance our burgeoning industry. 

Members of the cannabis community, WE HEAR YOU and are working for YOU! 

 

Below are the new policy memos released by the county, as well as a PDF downloadable copy of all of them. 

Policy Memo # 1 – Provides Guidelines for Permitted Electrical in Ag Exempt Hoop Houses 

Policy Memo # 2 – Clarifies that Projects Without Permitted Structures, DO NOT need ADA accessible Parking 

Policy Memo # 3 – Outlines Situations for Grading and Building Permits to Advance without a Complete Administrative Development Permit 

Policy Memo # 4 – Outlines Restroom and Waste Disposal Requirements for Cannabis Farms 

 

Nevada County Cannabis Cultivation Policy Updates {PDF}

(click here for downloadable PDF of all policy updates)

 

   NEVADA COUNTY  

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AGENCY POLICY 

BUILDING DEPARTMENT 

Subject: Agricultural Building Exemptions

Policy #: BD-CSC-10-001

Original Policy: August 10, 2010

Last Revised: November 2, 2020 

Index: 1. Purpose  

  1. Analysis  
  2. Policy 
  3. Policy Interpretation  
  4. Purpose:

The purpose of this policy is to provide clarification to staff related to the implementation of  requirements and procedures for agriculturally exempt structures association to County of Nevada  Land Use and Development Code Sec. L-V 2.4 (15), and to ensure that interpretation of the LUDC  and Zoning Ordinance does not provide unnecessary limitations to applicants who seek to  construct exempt structures.  

  1. Analysis:

The rural nature of the Nevada County community and geography result in the abundance of  agricultural farming operations small and large. With these types of operations comes the need for  several accessory agricultural structures relating to the farming and agricultural practices. This  includes but is not limited to animal husbandry structures, pole barns, shade structures, pump  houses, greenhouses, storage containers, and high/low tunnel greenhouses. The structures are  accessory to primary use structures such as single-family dwellings/commercial buildings and  necessary to the operation of these agricultural activities.  

  1. Policy:

Agricultural structures, not intended for habitation, accessory to residential property in zoning  districts “AG”, “AE”, “RA”, “FR” and “TPZ” that meet all of the following conditions qualify for  an agricultural exemption: 

  1. Not a place of employment where agricultural products are processed, treated, or packaged,  nor shall it be a place used by the public. High and low tunnel greenhouses may be used by  employees only related to cultivation and drying of crops. 
  2. Of simple construction using conventional construction methods (concrete, steel frame,  masonry and other technologies that generally require engineering are not exempt) or  specifically approved manufactured structures. 
  3. No plumbing, electrical, or mechanical utilities installed. See Sec. d(7) for electrical that  may be permitted and independently installed related to high/low tunnel greenhouse  structures.  
  4. Structures must meet the following limits: 

1) Pole Barns. Limited in size to 1,000 square feet maximum. One pole barn per parcel or  20 acres. Open from ground to eave on all sides. Distance to other structures must be  equal to its height, minimum of 20 feet. Minimum of 100 feet from property line. 

2) Shade Structures. Cover limited to woven shade fabric. 

3) Animal Husbandry. Limited in size to 400 square feet maximum. One per 5 acres.  Single wall construction. Dirt floor or gravel. Distance to other structures minimum of  10 feet. Minimum of 40 feet from property line. 

4) Pump Houses. Limited in size to 100 square feet. 

5) Greenhouses. Limited in size to 400 square feet. One structure per parcel or 10 acres.  Wood or PVC construction with rigid plastic or fiberglass cover. Dirt or gravel floor. 

6) Storage Containers. Limited in size to 320 square feet. One container per parcel or 5  acres. Container is used for light nonhazardous agricultural storage and shall not be  structurally modified or have any electrical, mechanical or plumbing utilities. 

7) High and low tunnel greenhouses meeting the following criterion:  

  • Easily moveable 
  • Constructed of metal or plastic tubing and covered with agricultural cloth, plastic  film, or shade screening.  
  • Exits are in compliance with the most recently adopted editions of the California  Building and Fire Codes. 
  • Structures meet vegetation management clearance requirements in accordance with  the most recently adopted edition of the California Fire Code and Public Resource  Code Section 4291. 
  • Setbacks and height limitations in accordance with Chapter II of the Nevada County  Land Use and Development Code. 
  • Electrical may be installed completely structurally independent and not attached to high/low tunnel greenhouse structures meeting the following standards.  o A maximum of one, 20 ampere, 4-gang receptacle outlet may be installed  at each end of high/low tunnel structures.  

o All electrical connected to receptacle outlets shall be self-contained, listed,  plug connected equipment. Extension cords shall not be used in lieu of  permanent wiring. 

o All electrical and associated plug connected equipment shall be mounted  structurally independent of high/low tunnel greenhouse structures in accordance with the California Building Standards Codes and local ordinances.  

o All electrical components and wiring shall meet all standards associated to  electrical installed for exterior locations.  

o Any cord connected lighting shall be shielded from exterior when operated  during non-daylight hours.  

o A building permit shall be obtained prior commencing any electrical work  and shall be inspected/finalized prior to use in accordance with the California Building Standards Codes.  

o A service disconnect shall be installed within sight and within 50ft of the  electrical location with all other grounding, bonding, and electrical installation standards met per the California Electrical Code.  

  1. i) Parcels 3 acres or greater in size shall meet the following size and setback  standards: 

o 3,600sqft per acre maximum 

o 35ft in width maximum 

o One story 

o 5ft separation between structures minimum 

o Clustering of structures is allowed 

  1. ii) Parcels less than 3 acres in size shall meet the following size and setback  standards: 

o 3,600sqft maximum 

o 35ft in width maximum 

o One story 

o 5ft separation between structures minimum if multiple are proposed 

All structures require site plan review and approval and a letter of exemption issued by the Building  Official and Planning Director. 

  1. Policy Interpretation:

The Director of Building and/or approved building department designee shall have the authority  for the interpretation of this policy.  

Policy Initiated By: Craig Griesbach, Director of Building 

Approved: Date:

Craig Griesbach 

Director of Building

 

NEVADA COUNTY  

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AGENCY POLICY 

PLANNING DEPARTMENT 

Subject: Cannabis Parking Requirements

Policy #: PLN 1

Original Policy Date: November 2, 2020

Last Revised Date: N/A 

Index: 1. Purpose  

  1. Analysis  
  2. Policy 
  3. Policy Interpretation 

 

  1. Purpose:

This policy is intended to provide direction to staff in implementing ADA requirements for  accessible parking associated with Commercial Cannabis Projects. The Department’s intent is to provide clear direction to applicants as to ADA parking requirements for specific uses under  Commercial Cannabis ADPs. Due to the lack of LUDC direction specific to Commercial  Cannabis uses, ADA standards applied must be specific to the use/structure for which application  is being made. Thus, in most cases the Building Department will be the authority in applying ADA  parking regulation to specific cannabis uses.  

  1. Analysis:

The Nevada County Land Use and Development Code contains parking standards for different  land use types in Section L-II 4.2.9. The parking requirements are based on square footages of  structures and based on the use types of the structures and activities occurring onsite. 

Commercial Cannabis operations are not specifically listed in the land use tables. The land uses  associated with commercial cannabis cultivation and processing generally include office use,  storage, processing and cultivation similar to agricultural uses. Given the rural nature of the  parcels that qualify for commercial cannabis permits, permanent parking lots and wheelchair  accessible (ADA) parking spaces can provide a challenge for commercial business and are  generally in areas that do not provide improved access connectivity to the rest of the site and/or  areas where commercial cannabis operations occur. Therefore, a use specific interpretation is  required.

  1. Policy:

Standard Parking Spaces: One (1) space per employee* 

Wheelchair Accessible Parking Spaces: The accessible parking standards for Commercial  Cannabis operations shall be in accordance with the most recently adopted version of the California Building Standards Codes. These standards will be in accordance to Public Accommodations as outlined in Chapter 11B of the California Building Code, and will be applied by the Building Department.  

Accessible parking is required based on the table below only when there are fully permitted commercial accessory structures such as processing structures, office buildings, and greenhouse structures. Ag exempt structures do not require disabled accessible parking facilities.  

Excerpt from the California Building Code showing minimum disabled accessible parking  standards related to parking facilities: 

*Parking spaces for non-ADA spaces may be gravel or other compacted surface capable of  supporting vehicles. If employees are living onsite parking spaces required for the residence may  be credited toward the total employee spaces required onsite (up to 2 spaces per legal dwelling).  ADA parking spaces (if required) may be counted in the total required parking space count (i.e. 7  employees proposed, 6 regular spaces and 1 ADA space for a total of 7). Any parking spaces  provided in excess of the required parking are not required to meet County standards. Driveway  standards are required to be met for all cannabis projects regardless of parking requirements. 

  1. Policy Interpretation:

The Director of Planning Department, Director of Building and/or their designee shall have the  authority for the interpretation of this policy. 

Policy Initiated By: Brian Foss, Planning Director 

Approved: Date:

Brian Foss 

Planning Director

 

 

NEVADA COUNTY  

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AGENCY POLICY 

PLANNING DEPARTMENT 

Subject: Grading/Building Permit Approval prior to Administrative Permit Approval

Policy #: PLN 2

Original Policy Date: November 2, 2020

Last Revised Date: N/A 

Index: 1. Purpose  

  1. Definitions 
  2. Analysis  
  3. Policy 
  4. Policy Interpretation  

 

  1. Purpose:

The purpose of this policy is to clarify when grading and/or building permits may proceed in  advance of Administrative Permit finalization. Permits addressed by this policy are those associated with development that may require an Administrative Permit process but that do not  independently require an approved Administrative Permit for permits to issue. Thus, some of these  permits may be processed independently of the Administrative Permit, including prior to  Administrative Permit issuance. The intent of clarifying this policy is to direct staff in assisting  applicants in processing permits in a manner consistent with policy that works best for applicants’  project timelines.  

  1. Definitions:

Administrative Permit: 

A permit that does not require discretionary approval by a hearing body (Zoning Administrator,  Planning Commission, and/or Board of Supervisors) and may include Administrative  Development Permits (ADP), Zoning Compliance, and/or Commercial Cannabis Permits. 

  1. Analysis:

Existing County of Nevada Land-Use and Development Code Section L-II 5.5.B.2 states that no  building permit shall be issued for any structure which would violate or fail to comply with any  approved Development Permit and conditions for the parcel or parcels on which such structure or  use is to be located. 

The historical procedure related to Administrative Permit processing was to only approve building  permits and grading permits after the approval of an Administrative Permit to allow a certain land use. Certain circumstances may warrant the issuance of building and grading permits prior to the  approval of an Administrative Permit that is in process. Portions of the overall project can be  approved such as grading or to begin construction of a building in advance of adverse weather  conditions or to be in place to operate/use as soon as the Administrative Permit is issued.  Prohibiting permit issuance until after the approval of an Administrative Permit can delay a  projects operation, have negative financial implications, and/or prevent projects from being  constructed in a timely manner. At the same time, allowing permits subsidiary to an ADP to move  forward without CDA analysis would risk allowing applicants to construct aspects of their project  that later create obstacles to ADP approval. The following policy is intended to allow permits to  move forward when they are not likely to result in obstacles to Cannabis ADP approval.  

  1. Policy:

In some cases, a building permit, including a grading permit, may be approved by the Planning  Department prior to the approval of an Administrative Permit. In order for a grading and/or  building permit associated with an Administrative Permit to be approved prior to approval of the  Administrative Permit, the following requirements must be met: 

  1. The building permit/grading permit is for a structure or use that does not require the approval of the Administrative Permit to be constructed and/or occupied (i.e.  the grading/structure can be used for another allowed use per the zoning code and  a Management Plan is not required or has been approved). If the structure is  dependent on the approved use of the Administrative Permit the building/grading  permit may be issued but a final certificate of occupancy shall not be granted by  the Building Department for the structure until the Administrative Permit is  approved. This will allow grading/construction while the Administrative Permit  review and processing is finalized.  
  2. A complete Administrative Permit application package has been submitted to and  accepted by the Planning Department for the intended use of the building  permit/grading permit.  
  3. The Administrative Permit application has been distributed and comments  have been provided by all of the applicable reviewing agencies. 
  4. No comments have been received by commenting agencies that would  cause the building permit/grading permit to be amended, relocated, or otherwise modified in any way in order to allow the structure or use intended by the Administrative Permit. This will prevent undue financial or other hardships to the applicant if the physical work is commenced onsite but later found to be inconsistent with requirements for ADP approval
  1. The building permit structure does not require Design Review pursuant to Section  L-II 5.3 of the LUDC. 
  2. The applicant must sign a compliance agreement that states the structure shall not  be used for any such use that requires an Administrative Permit until such time that  one is approved and the 10-day appeal period has elapsed without an appeal. The agreement shall acknowledge that the applicant is being issued the building/grading  permit at their own risk and that if the Administrative Permit is not issued for any  reason the structure/grading may need to be removed/restored or only used for  allowed uses per the applicable parcel zoning.
  1. Policy Interpretation:

The Director of Planning and/or approved Planning Department designee shall have the authority  for the interpretation of this policy.  

Policy Initiated By: Brian Foss, Planning Director 

Approved: Date:

Brian Foss 

Planning Director

 

 

NEVADA COUNTY  

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AGENCY POLICY 

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT 

Subject: Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Portable Toilet Use and Permitting

Policy #: EH 1

Original Policy Date: November 2, 2020

Last Revised Date: N/A 

Index: 1. Purpose  

  1. Analysis  
  2. Policy 
  3. Policy Interpretation  

 

  1. Purpose:

The purpose of the this policy is to provide staff and customers with direction regarding  permissible options for Commercial Cannabis Administrative Permit applicants to meet  requirements for waste disposal, and to facilitate economically efficient cannabis operations while  ensuring protection of the environment and human health and safety in the context of Commercial  Cannabis operations.  

  1. Analysis:

The rural nature of the Nevada County community and geography result in the abundance of  agricultural and Commercial Cannabis farming operations, both small and large. These operations  employ migrant and/or permanent employees. The addition of employees on site at Cannabis  operations necessitate sanitary facilities that provide for sustainable sewage disposal and access to  clean water in the short and long term.  

Historically, the CDA has required the installation of a distinct and separate sewage disposal  facilities and water sources commercial operations where employees are located on parcels. The  rural nature of Nevada County and geographical/topographical aspects of the majority of the  County make this challenging. Requiring dual systems may not be financially sustainable or  desirable in rural zoning designations. To meet health and safety requirements and to ensure that  applicants are able to implement these requirements, Environmental Health explored alternative  solutions that meet the intent of minimum standards and practices. Based on specific operations  and number of employees onsite, other options for sanitation may meet the intent of minimum  standards while also protecting employees, community members and the environment.  

  1. Policy: 
  2. Permissible use of portable waste disposal facilities:  
  3. Commercial Cannabis businesses with six (6) or fewer full-time and/or temporary/seasonal  employees are permitted to use portable toilets with portable hand washing sinks on an annual  basis. In order to comply with these standards, business operations shall comply with the below  minimum standards: 
  • The Commercial Cannabis Operator will be required to obtain a Portable Toilet with  Portable Hand Washing Station Annual Permit from the Nevada County Department of  Environmental Health (NCDEH) and pay any associated permit fees. As this permit is an  annual permit, fees will be invoiced annually and shall be paid by the applicant prior to  permit expiration. Failure to renew permit and pay annual fees will result in permit  termination.  
  • The portable toilet and hand washing station shall be serviced on a routine basis as  determined by the NCDEH and said service shall be provided by a licensed and certified  septic pumper commercial business. This may be the same commercial businesses from  which the portable units are rented.  
  • Shall be located on the specific parcel as approved by the NCDEH and the approved  Commercial Cannabis Administrative Permit and plans. 
  • Service receipts shall be provided to the NCDEH after each routine visit by the Portable  Toilet Company either via email (Env.Health@co.nevada.ca.us) or via regular mail:  County of Nevada NCDEH, 950 Maidu Avenue, Nevada City, CA 95959.  
  • The ongoing use of portable facilities will only be permitted if annual inspections indicate  that applicant is in compliance with all relevant use portable sanitation facility standards.  ii. Commercial Cannabis businesses with seven (7) or more full-time and/or temporary/seasonal  employees are permitted to use portable toilets with portable hand washing sinks for four (4) years  from their approval to operate. In order to comply with these four (4) year transitional standards, business operations shall comply with the below minimum standards: 
  • The Commercial Cannabis Operator will be required to obtain a Portable Toilet with  Portable Hand Washing Station Annual Permit from the Nevada County Department of  Environmental Health (NCDEH) and pay any associated permit fees. As this permit is an  annual permit, fees will be invoiced annually and shall be paid by the applicant prior to  permit expiration and will sunset four (4) years from start of operations. Failure to renew  permit and pay annual fees will result in permit termination. 
  • The number of portable toilets shall follow current State and OSHA guidance. This is  recommended that one (1) toilet and one (1) hand sink shall be provided for every ten (10)  employees.  
  • The portable toilet and hand washing station shall be serviced on a routine basis as  determined by the NCDEH and said service shall be provided by a licensed and certified  septic pumper commercial business. This may be the same commercial businesses from  which the portable units are rented.  
  • Shall be located on the specific parcel as approved by the NCDEH and the approved  Commercial Cannabis Administrative Permit and plans. 
  • Service receipts shall be provided to the NCDEH after each routine visit by the Portable  Toilet Company either via email (Env.Health@co.nevada.ca.us) or via regular mail:  County of Nevada NCDEH, 950 Maidu Avenue, Nevada City, CA 95959. 
  • Within the four (4) year transitional timeframe, the Commercial Cannabis Applicant shall  comply with Section “B” requirements shown below. 
  1. Permanent waste disposal requirements: These standards are associated to the installation  of permanent septic disposal systems for Commercial Cannabis operations and permits. The  following standards shall be met for either “i” or “ii” shown below within the four (4) year  transitional period for operators with seven (7) or more employees as shown in Section “A”: 
  2. Installation of a new septic disposal system (tank and disposal field) or connection to  sewer district as applicable: 

o Employ a consultant to apply for an On-Site Soils Evaluation (OSSE) 

o Based on the results of the OSSE, apply for a Septic Permit by submitting Septic  Design and Permit Application.  

o Obtain approval of septic system by NCDEH 

  1. Connect to the existing residential disposal field via a new septic tank installation and  permitted as a Centralized System: 

o Employ a consultant to apply for an On-Site Soils Evaluation (OSSE)  

o Based on the results of the OSSE, submit an application for the installation of the  septic tank for the commercial operation and modification of the existing  disposal/leach field which shall be sized adequately to handle flows from the  residence and the commercial operation including the 100% repair area.  

o Apply for a Maintenance and Monitoring Permit (requires annual maintenance and  monitoring reporting) 

o Receive a Centralized Septic System Permit from the NCDEH (annual fee is  required)  

  1. During annual inspections completed under the Annual Cannabis Permit (ACP) by the Nevada  County Cannabis Compliance Division, any findings of ground contamination, unsanitary  conditions, spillage inside the portable toilets or lack of adequate soap, towels or water at hand  washing stations may result in enforcement action by the NCDEH. Where violations exist  onsite that are health and safety related and/or the presence of repeated violations, annual  permits may be revoked.  
  2. Policy Interpretation:

The Director of Environmental Health and/or approved Environmental Health Department  designee shall have the authority for the interpretation of this policy.  

Policy Initiated By: Amy Irani, Environmental Health Director 

Approved: Date:

Amy Irani 

Environmental Health Director