Cannabis and Community
Fairbanks is undergoing some growing pains with the new commercial cannabis industry.
Obvious tax income is welcome. A relative handful have personal experience with odor from grows. Some are concerned for their kids. Some of this is fear of change.
The land use issue includes the long time problem of Fairbanks never really fully accepting planning and zoning.
I recall efforts to update the comprehensive land use plan in 1985. It took over a year for the Planning Commission on which I served to shepherd through to the Assembly for approval. It was the first time that the entirely of the FNSB was addressed.
Once the Comprehensive Plan was updated, we started on the zoning code – Title 18. That also took over a year. At that time, what is now known as General Use GU, was Unrestricted Use. this conflicted with the Alaska Statutes which required SOME restriction. The Planning Commission then proposed three, for which required a conditional use hearing. 1. Nuclear Power Plants 2. Petro-chemical Plants 3. Primarily storage of hazardous materials. When we referred it to the Assembly, the conservative wing dallied for several months. They then turned the entire re-write down, for this and other recommendations, particularly on public facing signage.
I took the Borough to Superior Court pro se, won by summary judgement (no trial) as during the legal filings, the Assembly gutted much of our work, then did pass Title 18. My wife and I enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Two Rivers Lodge from the legal fees reimbursement of $125.
Since that time, a few other uses requiring conditional uses for correctional institutions and most recently cannabis businesses. Think about the range of importance for adjacent landowner impacts for each on this list.
• Nuclear Power Plants
• Petrochemical Plants
• Hazardous Materials Storage
• Correctional Institutions
• Cannabis businesses
Much of the Fairbanks North Star Borough remains GU-1. It is taking a lot longer than I expected for residents and property owners to take the time and figure out what they want. And needs and expectations change, as I’ve observed during the 46 years I’ve lived in Fairbanks.
Sometimes the borough doesn’t make it easy. In the past handful of years, they appear to have embraced the Risk Averse philosophy, as exemplified by the increasing number of boards and commissions imposing a quasi-judicial hearing methodology on issues. I think there needs to be more balance with risk-aware instead. The many volunteers who serve on these boards aren’t typically legal or parliamentary experts, nor are most of the public who seek to testify. The current system stifles participation and actually creates risks of its own with continued process failures.
That being said, at least the substantial fee of $800 is waived for applying for a rezone from GU to some other appropriate zone. At which time, you and some of your neighbors will have a chance to weigh in.
I should have a conclusion to this, but really, this is just a bit of history and some musings that may be of interest to readers.