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Herbal Angels cannabis project hearing postponed to Jan. 29 by Santa Barbara County Planning Commission
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Herbal Angels cannabis project hearing postponed to Jan. 29 by Santa Barbara County Planning Commission

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A public hearing on a proposed cannabis cultivation and manufacturing operation in Cebada Canyon was postponed Wednesday by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission at the request of the applicant.

Herbal Angels LLC representatives asked the commission to postpone the hearing until the Jan. 29 regular meeting, and commissioners approved the request.

The hearing had already been continued from the Dec. 4 meeting to allow commissioners to consider adding more conditions of approval.

Representatives for Herbal Angels asked for additional time to work with the County Fire Department and transportation engineers to develop potential road improvements to satisfy directions given by commissioners at the Dec. 4 meeting, according to a memo to the commission from Kathryn Lehr, supervising planner for the project.

Herbal Angels is seeking a conditional use permit for a cannabis cultivation and manufacturing operation on a 102-acre site just east of the Cebada Canyon existing developed rural neighborhood, where the company has already been cultivating medical marijuana.

The proposal calls for growing new plants under mixed light in 3 acres of greenhouses and larger plants in 15 acres of hoop houses, constructing a two-story building for drying and processing and another two-story building for extracting oil from the crop.

The company is also seeking a CUP to build three structures to house workers.

Company officials said the year-round workforce would consist of about 30 employees, increasing to around 60 during the single 60-day annual harvest period.

Santa Barbara Coalition for Responsible Cannabis, the Citizens Planning Association of Santa Barbara County and Cebada Canyon residents are among those opposing the project.

Their opposition is based on the project’s potential to destroy the rural character of the Cebada Canyon EDRN, the impact of increased traffic on the area’s narrow roadways and the threat to residents’ water supplies from Herbal Angels potentially drilling deep wells on the property.

Complicating the company’s permit applications are the legal ramifications of a Dec. 16 raid on the Herbal Angels’ Cebada Canyon site and locations in Los Angeles County by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Cannabis Compliance Team.

Team members seized more than $1 million in cannabis and cannabis products at the Cebada Canyon site and additional evidence in Los Angeles County, said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Raquel Zick.

The raids came after an investigation indicated Herbal Angels had allegedly obtained state provisional licenses through a fraudulent affidavit claiming medical marijuana had been grown on the site prior to Jan. 16, 2016.

That date was arbitrarily set by the County Board of Supervisors to indicate a legal, nonconforming cannabis operation had previously existed.

As a result of the raid, the Sheriff’s Office asked the District Attorney’s Office to file three felony charges — illegal cultivation of marijuana, falsifying public records or documents and conspiracy — against Herbal Angels principals Eli Sheiman and Mariette Wingard, Zick said.

It’s unclear how the alleged crimes will play into the Planning Commission’s decision on the company’s CUP application, which under county ordinances hinges on its compliance with general land-use and specific cannabis-related land-use regulations.

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County Reporter/Associate Editor

Lee Central Coast Newspapers associate editor Mike Hodgson covers Santa Barbara County government and events and issues in Santa Ynez Valley. Follow him on Twitter @MHodgsonSYVNews.

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