Danville’s planning commission voted on Monday to approve rezoning and a special use permit for the property 201 Eastwood Drive for potential operations as a hemp processing facility.
The commission voted for a conditional rezoning for the property from HR-C Highway Retail Commercial to LED-I Light Economic Development Industrial. They also approved a special use permit allowing for the waiver of district and yard setback requirements for the property. Both applications were filed by Driftwood LLC.
According to attorney R.J. Lackey, his client, local company US Agro Logistics Inc, is trying to get ahead of the curve with hemp processing for hemp products, including CBD oil. Hemp products have no more than 0.3-percent THC levels, which is the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana.
The company is planning on partnering with the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research to do the testing to make sure their hemp never exceeds the 0.3-percent.
“Hemp will be brought in and processed to extract the CBD oil and shipped to manufacturers to put in creams and other products they then sell to be used by the general public,” Lackey said.
CBD oil is used for a number of things, including to ease chronic pain and anxiety.
Hemp products were made legal in Virginia in March. The company is not proposing to manufacture or sell illegal products.
The facility would feature an FDA-ready-to-be-approved commercial food manufacturing level facility, including an industrial grade kitchen.
Lackey says the company wants to invest several million dollars into this operation. With their hemp, they will be able to tell the land where it originated and every chemical put on it. It can be tracked into the facility.
“The CBD then will be of first grade quality, pesticide free, and anything that is carcinogenic or banned for human consumption will be banned from the facility,” he said.
Lackey expects the facility to provide for jobs that include those for chemists, truck drivers, and processors, which will bring people to the community.
The company plans to get their hemp from local growers in Virginia and North Carolina.
The commission approved the special use permit subject to the several conditions, including that the hours of operation are to be limited to 7:30 a.m. and 10 p.m., no commercial vehicles or other heavy trucks may enter or leave the property between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., and there shall be buffer yards between property lines that are adjacent to residential areas and public right-of-ways.
Upon approval from city council, Lackey said the next step in the process is to purchase the building at 201 Eastwood Drive, which is currently not in use but has been used most recently as a gym facility, from its current owners.
In other business, the planning commission also approved conditional rezoning and a special use permit for 750 Main Street, the former YWCA building, to be used as a restaurant, commercial kitchen, axe-throwing, and event space.
Given approval by city council, the building will be rezoned from N-C, Neighborhood Commercial District to conditional CB-C, Central Business Commercial District.
The applicant also included proffers, which would respect the surrounding neighborhood to aid in the approval. These included not using the commercial kitchen between 1:30 a.m and 5 a.m. and ending any outdoor music by 10 p.m on weekdays and by 11 p.m. on weekends.
The special use permit was granted given the following conditions: the hours of operation are limited between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. on Saturday; the site should have at least 13 on-site parking spaces, on of which should be handicapped parking; and the site shall contain bicycle parking for three bicycles.
John Grothe, owner of the Get Buffaloed food truck, applied for the rezoning and special use permits. If approved, he intends to create an axe-throwing facility with separate lanes. The commercial kitchen will be created with food trucks in mind and available for those owners to prepare their food before they go out for the day.
These rezoning and special use permit requests must still be approved by city council.
The planning commission also voted to have a work session to discuss the definition of whole-home short-term rentals and revisit the idea in next month’s meeting, which will be on June 10.