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Medicinal marijuana greenhouse proposal dies on the vine

Eastern Arizona Courier Article by Kim Smith

Reading the writing on the wall, the Bayacan Company withdrew a rezoning application from Graham County Monday morning that would’ve allowed them to grow medicinal marijuana in the empty NatureSweet greenhouses near Bonita.

Last Wednesday the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 8-1 against the rezoning after numerous residents expressed their disapproval of such a facility. They expressed concerns about the message it would send to children, the environmental impact it would have and the potential impact on traffic.

The Graham County Board of Supervisors were scheduled to take up the matter again Monday morning.

Bayacan attorney Heather Dukes asked the board to postpone the hearing to allow the company time to sway residents. The board opted to hear from residents instead and the same fears were expressed.

Supervisor Danny Smith said he had doubts Bayacan would be able to change anyone’s mind. He also said he thinks most potential employees would live in Cochise County, rather than Graham County.

While many Graham County residents may have attended recent job fairs, they likely are unaware none of the jobs would come to fruition until mid-to-late 2021, he said.

Supervisor Paul David also said he didn’t think Bayacan could sway anyone no matter how much of a delay was granted.

“This is not strictly about jobs and taxes, it’s about quality of life,” David said.

When no one made a motion to postpone the hearing, Dukes withdrew the company’s application.

Last week Dukes said an economic impact study by the Rounds Consulting Group showed Bayacan would introduce 1,494 jobs to the county as well as $545,800 in annual tax revenue. The average employee would earn $34,000-$40,000 annually, she said.

The Graham County Chamber of Commerce was in favor of the rezoning.

In a letter to the Board of Supervisors, the Chamber Board wrote, “Approval of this request will result in much needed employment and tax revenue to our region.”

In addition, after a tour of Bayacan facilities in Cochise County, the board said “We witnessed precise professionalism and impressive standard operating procedures from their operations manager, compliance manager, agricultural operations manager, and human resources manager.”

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