Chamber supports zone change for Bayacan

SAFFORD — The Graham County Chamber of Commerce issued a letter of support for a requested zoning change to allow a medical marijuana grow.

The chamber board of directors issued the letter Tuesday to the Graham County Board of Supervisors, who will consider the zoning request by Bayacan at the supervisors’ Dec. 21 meeting.

“Approval of this request will result in much needed employment and tax revenue to our region. Bayacan, LLC is a member of our Chamber, and held a job fair Saturday, Dec. 12 as well as tours of their facility for chamber board members Thursday, Dec. 3, Thursday, Dec. 10, and Monday, Dec. 14,” the chamber board wrote in its letter of support. “We witnessed precise professionalism and impressive standard operating procedures from their operations manager, compliance manager, agricultural operations manager, and human resources manager.

“We are confident that the folks at Bayacan, LLC will be good neighbors and community members, and we are eager to build great relationships with them.”

Bayacan is seeking a change from general land use (A zoning) to unlimited manufacturing land use (M-X zoning) in order to purchase and refurbish one of the NatureSweet greenhouses (known as Site 6) in Bonita into an indoor medical cannabis grow facility.

The greenhouse encompasses 53 acres; however, officials at Bayacan told Gila Valley Central that about 48 acres were be used to farm and the other five would be used for equipment and administration.

Bayacan officials said the company is seeking to hire 150 people for the first phase of development, at a starting salary of $35,000 per year plus benefits. At build-out, the company expects to employ about 600.

In a study commissioned by the company, Bayacan estimates the grow would have a $220 million economic impact on the region at build-out, which includes nearly $50 million in purchasing and retrofitting the property.

The first step in the re-zoning process is a public hearing before the Graham County Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 9 a.m. at the General Services Building.

The commission’s recommendation will be sent to the Graham County Board of Supervisors, who will be asked to take final action at a public meeting Monday, Dec. 21, at 8 a.m.