County approves second hemp greenhouse


ALAMOSA — Just two weeks ago Alamosa County approved the installation of its first industrial hemp greenhouse and officials approved their second during Wednesday's commissioners meeting. The new greenhouses will be located at 11350 Lane 12 North in Hooper.

Applicant Michael Rivera is hoping to use his commercial hemp to produce seed, hemp flour and cannabidiol-based consumables. He has a domestic well that can produce 350 gallons per minute to irrigate a maximum of 40 acres and seasonal use of the well will be limited from April 1 to November 1.

Right now the hemp facility is planned to be 12,000 square feet but at a full build-out it would contain 16 2,400 square-foot greenhouses, four 1,000 square-foot greenhouses, one 5,000 square-foot building for storage and laboratory testing and one 1,000 square-foot building for processing and CBD extraction.

Because Alamosa County Commissioner Michael Yohn asked about approving everything at once, Alamosa County Planning and Building Director Rachel Baird clarified that the commissioners would only be approving a special use permit for having commercial hemp greenhouses, but not for the construction of every subsequent greenhouse on the property. Those will still require the necessary building permits in the future without additional special use permits.

The special use permit can be revoked if certain conditions are not met, such as keeping light pollution to a minimum and registering operations with the Colorado Department of Agriculture's hemp registry and Colorado Department of Public Health's manufactured foods program.

Due to "anxiousness" and a postponed hearing that was supposed to happen earlier in the year, Rivera technically violated county code by starting greenhouse installation without a permit. Since receiving a stop work order from the county he has made no more progress on the project. Rivera will now pay twice as much for the permits because of the violation.

Approval for the greenhouse was unanimous and there were no public comments in opposition to the construction.