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York County township explains denial of medical cannabis operation

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Is it a farm or a factory? That question was at the heart of a decision by supervisors in Windsor Township to deny a request for a facility that would grow and process medical marijuana.

Act 16, the state law that authorized medical use of marijuana in Pennsylvania, seems to intend that facilities growing and processing marijuana be treated as manufacturing facilities, not as agriculture, according to the township's written explanation for its denial.

That was one of the main reasons why Windsor Township denied the request from a couple, the owners of two businesses, to grow and cultivate medical cannabis on their commercial property.

The Windsor Township Zoning Hearing Board voted unanimously Nov. 15 to deny the request from Keith and Cathy Shaffer, who own a pair of businesses at 900 Delta Road.

The Shaffers’ request was for an agricultural use in a commercially zoned area.

Zoning board members indicated after their vote that the request appeared to be more of a manufacturing use than an agricultural one.

Board members declined to discuss their vote immediately after the Nov. 15 meeting until after a written decision was completed.

In that written decision, issued Monday, the zoning board ruled that “the applicants’ proposed use fits completely within the definition of manufacturing, packaging, storage and/or wholesaling of pharmaceuticals ... it is therefore a use allowed as a permitted use in the industrial zoning districts of Windsor Township, but not permitted in the C-1 general commercial district,” where the Shaffers were applying.

The Shaffers said the cannabis operation would be indoors, taking up a small portion of their 7.3-acre property.

The operation was proposed for one building at the site that’s used for KJS Industrial Services, a foundry equipment sales and service business. The property also has a second building, for Stow-N-Go Self-Storage, a self-storage warehouse building containing mini-storage units, the zoning board decision noted.

If the Shaffers do eventually receive approval for the operation at the Delta Road location, KJS Industrial Services will either be relocated or closed, while the self-storage facility will remain and be unaffected by the proposed use, the written decision continued.

All of the cannabis growing and processing operation will be indoors, and no products will be sold at the location, it noted.

The decision also noted that, according to testimony presented at the Nov. 15 hearing:

  • Marijuana seeds would be purchased and brought to the site.
  • Seeds would be cultivated into plants, and cannabis oil would be extracted from the plants and processed into solid pills and other products permitted by state Act 16, the measure that launched Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program.
  • The pills and products would leave the facility for a medical marijuana dispensary.

The Delta Road property would be secured by fencing and an electronic gate, and would be monitored by security guards and between 75 to 100 video surveillance cameras, said the decision.

The Shaffers have referred questions to their attorney, Edward Paskey of York, who declined to say whether he and his clients would appeal the zoning board vote until after they could review the written decision.

Paskey was not immediately available for comment Monday.

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David O'Connor

David O'Connor

Dave O'Connor covers York County, manufacturing, higher education, nonprofits, and workforce development. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at doconnor@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @DaveOC_CPBJ.

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