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County reconsiders marijuana ordinance

Posted: Thursday, Sep 27th, 2012

Courier editor

ALAMOSA — Now that Alamosa County has a medical marijuana ordinance in place, it may be time to amend it.

During a work session on Wednesday, Alamosa County Land Use Manager Juan Altamirano told county commissioners the county’s ordinance lacks provisions for variances or waivers for applicants who might not meet the 1,000-foot restriction from schools, hospitals, churches, residences, etc. He said the commissioners should consider whether they want to amend their ordinance to allow the board to grant waivers.

He said a few applications for special use permits for medical marijuana facilities would be coming before the board of commissioners in the future. Since this was a work session, the group could not talk about specific applications but discussed the medical marijuana ordinance in general.

Alamosa County Attorney Jason Kelly said it might make some sense to amend the ordinance to allow the commissioners to make adjustments in the 1,000-foot restriction. He said an applicant might have a location that is 985 feet away from one of the entities listed in the restriction, for example. A minor adjustment might be considered in that instance. Someone requesting a 500-foot adjustment would not fit the intent of the ordinance, however, he added.

Kelly said the ordinance would not be that difficult to amend.

In another land use matter, the commissioners during their Wednesday work session discussed the zoning for the long-time Outhouse restaurant property. The owner of the property, Gerri Wegrzyn, would like the county to rezone the property commercial. It is currently zoned rural. The property owner contends that the property was being used for commercial purposes at the time the county set up zoning ordinances, so it should have been zoned commercial at that time.

Altamirano said the property around this one is zoned commercial.

The county could rezone the property by default. Commissioner Darius Allen said he sympathized with the property owner because all these years she thought her property was zoned commercial, since that was its use.

Altamirano said the property is only half an acre so it is not a buildable lot by county standards today but was grandfathered in when the county enacted land use regulations. Two structures are located on the property, the former restaurant and a single wide mobile home. A well serves both structures, as does a septic system.

Alamosa County Land Use Administrator Ken VanIwarden said if the septic system had to be replaced or changed to accommodate a new business on the property, it would not comply with the county’s regulations mandating an acre lot for a septic system. Options would be to put in a closed self-contained system or buy additional property to add to this lot, he said.

Kelly said the county is dealing with two issues here, one regarding the zoning of the property and the other regarding the lot size problem in relation to the septic system. The county could start by clearing up the zoning “to accurately reflect what has been and probably should have been,” he said.

Since this was a work session, the commissioners took no action.

During their regular meeting they approved a minor subdivision request presented by William McKinley to divide about two acres from an approximate 39-acre tract so a single-family residential unit could be placed on the two acres for McKinley’s son to live in.

“I have always kept my family together on the farm,” McKinley said. “We sold the farm this spring and found this 40 acres. My desire was to keep the family together.”

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