Petrolia to control where pot processors could build

873

Petrolia councillors want to be ready if cannabis producers come to town.
Council decided to have control over where a facility could locate by making companies go through the rezoning process, even if they want to build a processing plant in the industrial area.
Earlier this year, council asked Lambton County Planner Rob Nesbitt to take a look at the town’s zoning bylaws and give ideas on what could be done to control where any cannabis production operation might open.Nesbitt found there are 25 lots of industrial land in the community.
Nesbitt says most municipalities are now limiting production to industrial parks. Some are asking each parcel of land to be given permission for cannabis production.
Council decided it would be best to make companies ask for rezoning of the property.
“I don’t see a large greenhouse moving into Petrolia, I don’t believe we have the possibility of having a large grow op here,” says Councillor Joel Field. But he suggested Petrolia could be home to a production facility for edibles.
And he wanted to have some control over where a facility could go. “Then we would have a chance to look at what has been good, what has been positive and build off the experience of neighbouring municipalities.”
Some councillors voiced concern: “If we went (with rezoning) is there any chance the process would be slowed down such that it would hinder our opportunity to have that business come here?” asked Councillor Grant Purdy.
Nesbitt says any rezoning hearing is subject to appeal and that could add a year to the process.

“Businesses want things hassle free,” says Councillor Ross O’Hara.
“They don’t want to have anyone oppose it; they are most likely to go to a municipality which would welcome them.”
But councillors felt they were limiting the chance of a company like High Park from coming to Petrolia if the cases were not reviewed separately.
Nesbitt says council simply has to be clear as it writes the bylaw what will and will not be allowed.
“We want to make sure the definition and the regulations support if they wanted to set up a manufacturing operation,” he says noting that didn’t happen with High Park went to expand into the edibles market in Enniskillen since the greenhouse was zoned agricultural.
A revised zoning bylaw will return to council to allow cannabis production in the community in the next few weeks.