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Co. Looking to Grow Cannabis at Salton City Facility
The receding Salton Sea is shown from its western edge near the community of Desert Shores in this July 2020 photo. | GETSOMEPHOTO

Co. Looking to Grow Cannabis at Salton City Facility

SALTON CITY — Shipping containers may soon dot an area in Salton City, the site of a new cannabis cultivation industrial facility.

A conditional use permit for the three-phase project was approved by the Imperial County Planning Commission on Sept. 23. The facility would include on-site cultivation, harvesting, curing, packaging and bulk product sale.

And it has the potential for investing in restoration at the Salton Sea, said Nathan White, chief executive officer of Agess, the company preparing the project. 

Agess, or Alternative Generating Energy & Sustainable Solutions, works on environmental restoration, residential development, and industrial development. The goal, according to the company’s website, is to make “a global difference by taking actions at the Salton Sea. No matter how big or small the project is, our main goal is to manage and create innovative projects that will better the environment.”

The project was developed as a potential funding source for some of Agess’ environmental restoration efforts, White said.

Those restoration efforts currently include a Desert Shores restoration project, Salton City dust mitigation efforts and importing sea water to the Salton Sea.

There were a few reasons to choose the Salton City area, he said. It’s close to areas like San Diego, Los Angeles, and Coachella, but developing in the Imperial Valley area also has the benefit of bringing in tax dollars to an area where it could really benefit the community.

While early stages of the project may be built by Agess, the company is looking for funding partners to build and operate the cannabis facility, he said. It’s just about finding the right partner that will be responsible and fair with the operation.

The concept, for Agess, is to create turnkey operations that could benefit and fund restoration at the Salton Sea, he added. They started with a cannabis facility because it’s the most complex type of permit.

“If we can crack that nut, everything else falls in place,” he said. “It takes building a self-sufficient economy to really expand. Once you have a product and you’re making a profit, everything else comes together.”

The project includes three phases. Phase one of the project will include 640 square feet of cultivation area consisting of five shipping containers and associated work including utilities. 

Phase two would be an additional 1,600 square feet of cultivation area consisting of 11 shipping containers. 

Phase three includes three 24-foot by 204-foot greenhouses, one detached shipping container unit for water treatment, a detached water tank and a secured garage.

Imperial County has created permitted locations — the Gateway of the Americas and Keystone Planning Area specific plan areas  — but other light and medium industrial zones and medium and heavy commercial zones throughout the unincorporated area of Imperial County can be utilized if the builder gets a conditional use permit.

The county also allows for indoor cultivation, manufacturing, virtual retail with delivery, physical medicinal with delivery, testing laboratories and wholesale distribution within the unincorporated areas as permitted.

This story is featured in the Oct 1, 2020 e-Edition.