- Associated Press - Monday, March 14, 2016

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Fairbanks North Star Borough will hold its first public hearing on the opening of a new pot farm.

Travis Christensen, 32, is seeking a conditional use permit to launch his outdoor marijuana cultivation business on a 2 1/2-acre lot off the Richardson Highway in Salcha. He plans to purchase the property once the Planning Commission approves the location, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (https://bit.ly/1Rh30PI).

Neighbors within 1,000 feet of the proposed grow operation have been invited to testify at a public meeting Tuesday.

Christine Nelson, director of the borough Department of Community Planning, said anyone living beyond 1,000 feet of the facility will need to prove they are personally impacted by the proposed farm to testify.

“They have to show they have standing, which means a significant property right above and beyond that of the general public,” Nelson said.

Neighborhood resident Phyllis Stern has already voiced concerns that Christensen’s pot farm will bring too much traffic in the area.

“It’s a nice, quiet residential place,” Stern said. “We have small children here. I am not too thrilled with having that extra traffic. I think it would be a little more than what we want.”

The neighborhood is described as a mixture of vacant and residential properties, according to a report submitted to the Planning Commission.

Christensen’s businesses would include seven greenhouses, an indoor cultivation facility, an office building and living space for up to two employees, the report states. A 50-foot vegetative buffer is also planned around the farm, which would be enclosed by a 6-foot fence.

The planning department has already recommended approval of the grow operation, which Christensen is looking to begin in May.

According to borough code, the Planning Commission will decide on the proposal based on its compliance with the borough’s comprehensive land use plan, public safety, among other criteria.

“The neighbors that are testifying against something have to base their testimony on facts,” Nelson said. “Is this going to generate too much traffic? Is this going to pollute the groundwater? If they are just saying, ‘We don’t like marijuana,’ that is not a legitimate comment under the criteria.”

The borough has six other applications pending for marijuana cultivation, retail and manufacturing businesses, said borough planner Manish Singh.


Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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