US (CA): County approves 87-acre cannabis cultivation for Sta. Rita Hills

A zoning permit for SFS Farms, 87 acres of outdoor cannabis cultivation at the western end of the Sta. Rita Hills, the county’s most successful wine region, was approved by the county Board of Supervisors this week with few concessions to the neighboring vintners.

SFS Farms, owned by investors in Colorado and Manhattan Beach, is the largest “grow” approved by the county to date. If it were up and running today, it would be one of the largest cannabis operations in the U.S.; 87 acres is about 65 football fields’ worth of pot.

“I do favor large-size grows,” Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, who represents the Santa Maria Valley, said at Tuesday’s “virtual” hearing, where, for the first time in more than a year, all five supervisors sat together at the dais, without masks. “It’s easier to keep an eye on 50 grows than 250 grows.”

Dan Gainey, the owner of the Gainey Vineyard just east of and downwind from SFS Farms; and Ron and Chad Melville, who own a vineyard next to Gainey’s and a wine tasting lounge a mile northeast of SFS Farms, were asking the board to overturn the county Planning Commission’s earlier approval of the SFS Farms operation. Short of that, they wanted the board to cut down its size and require a 500-foot setback from their grapes.


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