INDEPENDENCE — The Independence City Council will decide what will happen next for Organic Investments, a production and processing facility for cannabis.
The council will deliberate toward a decision to either affirm the planning commission decision approving the request and adopt findings/conditions in the staff report; affirm the planning commission decision approving the request with findings and/or conditions as amended by the city council; or reverse the planning commission decision, with amended findings that the request does not meet applicable approval criteria.
The council heard testimony from both the applicant and two appellants at a public hearing on March 22. Additionally, more than a dozen community members from the Independence Airpark community spoke in opposition to the applicant’s business moving in on Stryker Road.
The hearing lasted four hours and ended with the applicant using his right to submit a final written argument within seven days. That argument was due Tuesday.
Joey Shearer, Independence city planner, said the issues in the appeals, one submitted by Bruce Patten, a resident of the airpark, and one submitted by the Independence Northpark Homeowners Association, boiled down to noise and odor concerns, the procedure followed for approval and appeals, as well as compliance with federal regulations.
Shearer said marijuana is a politically charged issue.
“However, at this time, the city is obligated to apply the same criteria to marijuana as any other use in the industrial zone,” he said. “Based on the criteria at the time the application was submitted — it’s not what you want the rules to be, it’s the rules on the books when the application was submitted.”
Organic Investments’ application was submitted in 2016, Shearer said. Site design review plans were complete in August 2016. In October, the applicant opted to extend the period by 120 days, which was granted.
The application was approved administratively before it was appealed and sent to the planning commission for a public hearing. The planning commission approved the plan, which was again appealed and sent before the city council on March 22 for another public hearing.
Opponents suggested that the process from the beginning was not transparent. Neighbors in the airpark said they never got noticed that the business had applied to locate on Stryker Road, within line of sight to their homes.
Some said the business would intrude on their peace and quiet because fans used to ventilate the greenhouses would be too loud. Others said the smell of the business would be comparable to the constant smell of “dead skunks.”
Some residents of the airpark said their property values would plummet and crime in that neighborhood would increase. Others were concerned about the possibility of marijuana residue leaving the production facility and contaminating them or their children.
The applicant’s attorney, Ross Day, showed reports that stated the fans used would make less noise than an average home.
He said the applicant agreed to additional conditions that a carbon filtration method would control odor.
Day stopped short of agreeing to submit an operation or maintenance schedule, as no other business would be required to submit those kinds of plans.
Councilors Michael Hicks and Ken Day both live in the Independence Airpark and pay dues to the HOA. Both said they were able to make an impartial and reasoned decision.
The council will make that decision at a special meeting tonight (Wednesday) at 6:15 at the Independence Civic Center in the room downstairs.