Cannabis Extraction Lab Out but Future Heavy Industrial Use Okayed at Mercer Fraser’s Trinity River Property
In a packed and passionate Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday, Mercer-Fraser, a local construction company, withdrew their request to build a cannabis oil extraction facility on property they own near the Trinity River. However, they kept the request for rezoning to the “heavy industrial” category which the Board of Supervisors then approved.
A number of community members including a large contingent of Hupa and Yurok people had attended the meeting and spoke fervently against the rezoning.
Hoopa Tribe Councilwoman Vivienna Orcutt articulated the sentiment for many in her community in a letter she sent to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors prior to the meeting. In part, she said,
Heavy industry simply does not belong on floodplains or across the street from our children’s elementary school, no matter how safe a developer promises to be. The Supervisors should not approve a change in zoning to allow cannabis extraction manufacturing and other heavy industry.
In addition, multiple commenters complained that the Supervisors, especially Ryan Sundberg, hadn’t come to the northeastern Humboldt County area to talk to the community about their concerns with the proposed facility.
In the end, the passionate opposition led to Mercer-Fraser’s surprise move of pulling the cannabis extraction lab portion of the request off the table. This seemed to garner goodwill among many in attendance. The crowd applauded after Mark Benzinger from the construction company stepped up to the podium and withdrew the cannabis extraction lab proposal. (See video below.)
There were some grumbles after the heavy industrial portion of the rezoning requests was passed by the Board but for the most part the crowd seemed content.
In the end though, the rezoning approved by the Board allows for future uses of the parcel to include many that would seem to have the same downsides that commenters had seemed concerned about previously.
Councilwoman Orcutt’s letter for instance specifically noted, “This property lies within the 100-year flood plain for the Trinity River and has historically been under water. Therefore, any heavy industry activities will have the potential to negatively affect the quality of water.” The rezoning would still have the same likely impact with or without a cannabis facility.
At this point, no other proposed uses for the property have been discussed.
Nonetheless, many there seemed to feel that a significant step forward had been taken. Councilwoman Orcutt stated on Facebook,
We are so grateful for every single person that called, emailed, prayed, and showed up at the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors mtg today to shut down the permit for an industrial hash-lab facility on the sacred Trinity River.❤️
🤗Thank you for being good ancestors who protect our traditional territories, culture, children, and resources!