The Turlock Planning Commission gave its approval to a development agreement with the City’s sixth cannabis pilot program participant on Thursday — a cultivation, manufacturing and distribution site that will be the third cannabis grow operation allowed in the Downtown Industrial Zone so far.
Development agreements are the second step in the City’s pilot program, coming after the Request for Qualifications process but before the conditional use permit stage. The agreements allow the City to regulate cannabis businesses by determining the standards and conditions that will govern development of the property and they also determine the “public benefit” amount a business will need to pay to offset or mitigate any potential impacts of the project on the community.
The development agreement approved by the Planning Commission is between the City and JDI Farms, Inc. for a cultivation, manufacturing and distribution site at 600 D St. JDI Farms is owned by Darron Silva of Turlock, who also owns and operates a greenhouse grow operation in Patterson, two retail dispensaries in Empire and Oakdale and a forthcoming dispensary also in development in Patterson.
JDI’s stated location in Turlock is the former site of Denham Plastics and adjacent to the warehouse that was raided last week by law enforcement. The raid at 680 D St. resulted in the arrest of five individuals and the confiscation of more than 4,000 marijuana plants being illegally grown in a warehouse owned in part by former Congressman Jeff Denham. Denham is also an owner of the 600 D St. warehouse.
The cultivation, manufacturing and distribution site at 600 D St. will be a vertically-integrated operation, meaning Silva controls the supply chain from seed-to-sale, distributing to not only the company’s local dispensaries, but to other retail locations statewide.
JED Farms was also in the Top 10 for the dispensaries allowed in the pilot program, but did not make the Top Four that were ultimately selected.
“This will be everything but retail, unfortunately,” Silva said.
Commissioner Ray Souza asked Silva about the potential odor that could come from the operation.
The process will take place in a room within the building, Silva explained, providing double insulation. In addition, a closed-loop ventilation system and air conditioning system will filter 99.9 percent of the air in the building, removing gas and odor in one fell swoop.
Silva also emphasized in his application JDI Farms’ philanthropic involvement, which includes time and money donated to various charities, like Red Nose Day and Letters to Santa, as well as Turlock’s Little League and Youth Football programs.
Souza asked to what extent Silva’s business in involved with youth activities in town and if the money donated to the organizations results in any type of advertising or signage at events and games.
“I do donate, but we do it undisclosed. We don’t advertise anything with the Little League — that would be absurd,” Silva said. “I wouldn’t want to go put up a banner for Empire Health and Wellness at Pedretti or something like that.”
Under the approved development agreement, JDI Farms will pay to the City a public benefit amount of $10 per square foot each for cultivation and manufacturing, and 2.5 percent of gross receipts for distribution.
Though representatives from City Attorney Doug White’s office assured Souza that the development agreements are not binding contracts — that comes with conditional use permits — the Commissioner couldn’t help but notice how detailed the agreements are.
“When we approve these development agreements, we’re pretty far down the road,” Souza said. “It’s pretty hard to say no after that.”
The City Council, however, will have the chance to approve or deny JDI Farms’ development agreement at their meeting on Sept. 24.