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Land For Marijuana Grows A Hot Commodity In Yolo County

YOLO COUNTY (CBS13) - The green rush is on in parts of California. Hundreds of people from across the country are looking to set up marijuana cultivation shops in the state. The number of applicants are so high and happening so fast that Yolo County decided to put a stop to new applicants for the time being.

"This is too close for comfort for me," said Maria Elena Fletes

She lives in Yolo County and just behind her home is a proposed marijuana grow site.

"I'm worried the crime is just going to explode," said Fletes, "I don't want the odor," she continued.

While some are opposed to the marijuana businesses and sites being near their homes, the county is moving forward with regulating them.

"We've needed to do this for a long long time to create a regulatory framework for cultivators," said John Young.

Young is the Yolo County agriculture commissioner. He says his office is over their heads with people wanting to cultivate marijuana.

"More folks coming in and being licensed than we have the ability to handle and go out and inspect," said Young.

In March, Yolo County dropped the ban on medical marijuana cultivation. When that happened, the flood gates opened.

"There was this sudden rush of interest in Yolo County that we really needed to put the brakes on," said Young.

Right now, 40 operations are fully permitted in the county. Another 60 are pending and the number continues to rise.

"We couldn't deal with our cultivators coming in and trying to become licensed so I needed to put a stop on that so we can put a cap on workload," Young explained.

The Central Valley Water Quality Control Board must also issue permits for marijuana cultivation sites.

Clint Snyder with the Water Board says they have a current office of four people working on a backlog of 300-400 applications. They've already approved 600-700 in the Central Valley.

The Yolo board of supervisors halted the issuing of new permits until the ag commission could catch up, and an ordinance could be fully scripted.

"You just jump through the hoops," said Robin Miller, with Yolo Botanicles.

She is one of the 40 fully authorized growers in Yolo County. She has all the permits and signatures to operate.

"It's pretty straightforward," said Miller, "you get your Waterboard permit. You get your ag ID from the ag office. You get your business license."

While her business is working well there's been mixed reaction from the community.

"Odor is the main concern but also proximity to schools or churches or whatever," said Miller.

Part of working out the Yolo County marijuana cultivation ordinance involved opening up avenues for public comment.

"We started receiving complaints and we've started become overwhelmed with the number of complaints that we are receiving," said Young.

Now, people like Fletes and others are making their voices heard.

"We have a neighborhood with kids, grandkids, elderly people, we don't want it here," said Fletes.

All the while, other landowners continue to plant the seed for an industry boom.

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