Update: The location of the special Trinity County Planning Commission meeting tonight, Nov. 19, to consider a draft Commercial Cannabis EIR has been changed. It will also now be closed to in-person public participation because of increased gathering restrictions imposed on the county this week due to a rapid rise in community spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The meeting was scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at the Trinity Alps Performing Arts Center, but will now be held at the Trinity County library conference room in Weaverville where Planning Commissioners and county staff will host a virtual conference session by Zoom. The meeting will now begin at 6:15 p.m. to allow extra time for participants to join virtually.

The link to join the meeting by Zoom is available online at the county’s website, www.trinitycounty.org.

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A special meeting is set for Thursday night, Nov. 19, in Weaverville when the Trinity County Planning Commission will accept public comments and possibly make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on a draft Environmental Impact Report on the county’s commercial cannabis licensing program.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the Trinity Alps Performing Arts Center and public participants may attend either in person or via Zoom. Access information is available online at the Trinity County Planning Department meetings page on the county’s website at www.trinitycounty.org.

The voluminous draft EIR is also available for review online at www.trinitycounty.org/node/2609.

Trinity County initiated its commercial cannabis program in October 2016 and then recognized the need to prepare an environmental document in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act to evaluate the physical environmental effects of the program.

In the meantime, the county has passed 15 ordinances and amendments regulating commercial cannabis activities including cultivation, testing, nurseries, distribution, non-storefront retail, microbusiness and manufacturing.

A consultant was retained to perform the CEQA analysis and produce the draft EIR now subject to review by the Planning Commission and ultimately certification by the Board of Supervisors. It will guide all future amendments of existing cannabis ordinances.

The process began last year with public meetings held in Weaverville, Burnt Ranch, Trinity Center, Mad River and Hayfork. After an initial 45-day public review period, additional meetings were held by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

The purpose of the EIR is to identify the significant effects of a project on the environment, identify alternatives and mitigation measures to avoid impacts. The final EIR will contain responses to comments received on the draft EIR and will be used to support the Board of Supervisors’ decision regarding whether to approve, modify or deny adoption of the Trinity County cannabis program.

Once the EIR is certified, it will be the basis used for a new ordinance that combines all existing commercial cannabis ordinances into one with the addition of a new chapter detailing all mitigation measures. The first action will be to repeal the existing ordinances, then provide for amendments and enact a new ordinance repealing, amending and enacting various sections to implement mitigation measures for the county’s cannabis program.

More than 20 comment letters were received from the public by the end of Nov. 10, which was before the draft final EIR was published online the next day and the staff report for the upcoming meeting was available on Nov. 12. Commenters expressed concerns about the timeline and document availability. They also requested rescheduling tomorrow night’s meeting to allow people more time to review the document and submit comments. Concerns were also expressed about scheduling the meeting around the holidays and during a period of increased active COVID-19 cases in Trinity County.

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