SAGUACHE — The Saguache County Planning Commission (SCPC) last Thursday began the revision of the county’s marijuana regulations.
The suggested revisions, which will be discussed further at the regular SCPC meeting Thursday, were recommended as follows:
• SCPC alternate Mark Swinney suggested that a cap be placed on the number of grows allowed into the county.
• All waste products should be disposed of properly.
• Buildings on site must be painted in earth tones.
• There shall be no construction or disturbance of property until county (and state?) approval is given.
• RVs cannot park on property for longer than 60 consecutive days.
• A primary residence must be built before outbuildings are constructed, cultivation begun.
• After approval of an application, six months should be allowed to begin construction. An application must be reissued if construction is not begun within one year.
• Six months should be allowed to install a septic system with a timetable to show progress.
• Ownership and business change applications must be filed and fees paid before the application approval is final.
• Landscaping shall be done.
• Six-foot chain link fences must be placed around the grows (already required by state),
• Landowners do not have to ask commissioners permission to subdivide if the parcel is more than 35 acres.
• A 300-foot buffer zone should surround grows in platted subdivisions.
• Landowners must be Colorado residents for a minimum of three years; they can only lease out land for three years at a time.
• Landowners (?) lessees must be bonded.
• Potential growers must identify where bus stops are, have something in writing from school.
• Variances can be granted for both recreational and medical grows, but medical grows with more than 25 plants must locate somewhere else.
Citizens who have been regularly protesting commissioners’ and the SCPC’s handling of the grows objected later that the following pressing issues were never or were not sufficiently addressed in amending the regulations.
• extraction explosions (lack of fire resources to control and extinguish)
• state defers to county and county defers to state, causing confusion
• impacts on water resources especially domestic and artesian sources
• incomplete applications
• children too close to grows and extraction process, grow within 300 feet of one property line
• possible illegal meetings
• decisions without minutes, public input, or opportunity for the public to gather facts for their benefit
• county address points in comments or letters, just letting the public vent and then not responding
• impacts on property values, density
• cap on total number of grows in county at one time
• monitoring of air quality, noise levels, water impacts, dust particles
Problems with Jason Trouard’s Mammoth Farms, said to be the largest grow in the country, was also discussed.
At last week’s commissioners meeting during the afternoon session, the application for A Growing Concern marijuana grow operation was denied. According to Moffat resident Marty Lange, the reasons for the denial were:
1). The fencing they were using was not adequate. People are not supposed to be able to see through the fence and recognize any plants. However, the grower was told that as long as he has a fence that somewhat disguised the plants, even though people could look through, as long someone could not distinguish that the plants were marijuana the mesh fence would be legal and permissible. The growers were told they should not be able to “see through” the mesh at all (it was noted by the commissioners however, that the infrastructure does not have to be in place before a permit is approved).
2). The original application was for the construction of a greenhouse. But now the owners have decided to have an outdoor grow instead (Land Use director Wendi Maez said that she was unaware of this).
3). There is a designated bus stop for children at the crossroad of 52 and T Rd. this has been an established bus stop and has been picking up/dropping off children since 2013. The grower was under the impression, and was told, that there was no official school bus stop at this location. However, Maez said she checked with both the superintendent and the bus monitor (at both schools) and was told there was indeed a designated pick up/drop off point at Road 52 and Road T.
Saguache County Commissioner Tim Lovato moved to deny the permit. The other two commissioners agreed and seconded the motion. The owners were angry and said they would consult with their attorney.
Monday county administration pulled the pending approval of the Barkl grow in Ewing Estates. The reason given was that Barkl never submitted a lease agreement between himself and the property owner, so his current application is incomplete. He was pulled from the March 29 agenda and will be required to resubmit his application.