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Cannabis site in Paso Robles stalled due to neighbors' concerns

Posted at 9:04 PM, Jul 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-13 14:29:51-04

Neighbors are raising concerns about a potential cannabis operation in Paso Robles.

Developers are planning to build a cannabis cultivation site on four acres of land near Penman Springs Road.

Even though this project has been in the works for three years, it’s recently been a cause of concern for many nearby residents.

“We just want the community to see that this is just a small mom and pop shop operation and we’re just like any other farmers,” said CEO of Bloomfield Company Brooke Mccommon.

Brooke McCommon and Austen Connella are business partners looking to develop a cannabis site in Paso Robles.

The Board of Supervisors approved of this project back in November 2020.

“Here in North County, we live in a community and an area with great weather. And we wanted to turn this property into something that we could pass down to our future generations," said Austen Conella, CEO of SloCal Roots Farms.

However, residents raised concerns about both the odor and water usage of cannabis being grown in their neighborhood.

“I wish they could go to a different town or whatever, stay away from us,” said Paso Robles resident Rosemary Marlow.

Developers said they’ve reached out to community members to educate them about how they plan to mitigate the odor and reduce the size of the project.

“With our reduced project, we’ll only be using 1.63 million gallons of water, which is far less than many of the wineries surrounding us. In addition to that, we’ll be offsetting that water use two to one,” Connella said.

Neighbors, who formed a group called No Cannabis In Our Backyard, appealed the approval of the cannabis site in December 2020 and requested a continuance in April of this year. Developers said their project would provide local jobs and tax revenue.

Nonetheless, some Paso Robles residents believe those economic benefits are not enough.

“I think that they’re just thinking in their pockets, not about the people’s health,” said Marlow, who is not associated with the No Cannabis In Our Backyard group.

McCommon and Connella said they are working on further compromises to present to the Board of Supervisors as negotiations continue.

“You know at the end of the day, this is a plant. It’s a commodity. It’s a medicine, so it’s really just a time to let us grow and let us be operators,” McCommon said.

The Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a continuation request mid-July and they’re still determining when further discussion will take place.