City of Steamboat Springs proposes new regulations for private marijuana grows
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The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission will weigh the proposed marijuana rules on Thursday. The commission meeting starts at 5 p.m. in Citizens Hall on 10th Street.
The city of Steamboat Springs is proposing new rules on private pot growers that aim to prevent fires at unlicensed grow facilities.
The new rules also would put a cap on the number of pot plants that can be grown inside residences.
Private grow facilities in the city were thrust into the spotlight June 13 when a caregiver’s medical marijuana grow operation caught fire at an industrial park on Downhill Drive and caused $20,000 worth of damage to the building.
It is suspected the fire was started by a portable, stand-alone air conditioner inside the unit.
Under the city’s current regulations, these types of grow operations go largely unregulated, and there is no system in place for them to be safety inspected by firefighters.
The city’s new rules would require larger, private grow operations in commercial and industrial areas to occupy a space that has a compliant sprinkler system and satisfies electric, fire and building code requirements.
Grow operations would have to be inspected by the fire marshal for compliance, regardless of whether the project requires a building permit.
Applicants who want to set up a private grow operation would also have to submit a plan for odor control.
City staff attorney Dan Foote said the city’s goal isn’t to ticket private marijuana growers under the new ordinance but rather to motivate them to come into compliance by doing such things as installing the necessary sprinkler systems at larger grow facilities if they don’t already have them.
“We’re trying to get a little bit of a handle on who is doing what and where,” Foote said. “The big motivator we had for that was the recent fire.”
Larger private grow operations would be limited to 36 plants in commercial zone districts.
There would be no limit in industrial zones.
City staff said enforcement of the new rules would be complaint driven.
The city is also proposing new rules to limit the impacts of growing marijuana in residences.
Amendment 64 allows adults to grow up to six plants each in a residence, meaning a household of four adults could grow as many as 24 plants.
The city is proposing to cap the number of plants that can be grown in a household to a dozen, regardless of how many adults are in the residence.
The new rules also aim to mitigate odors from residential grows by requiring them to “not be perceptible at the exterior of the property.”
City staff says that, currently, marijuana plants in the city are treated in much the same way as ordinary houseplants.
Foote said the city’s police department received 10 complaints about grow operations in residential and commercial areas over an 18-month period that ended in the spring.
One of the complaints came from a person who said his roommate moved out of a residence but continued paying rent for a room so he could maintain it as a private marijuana grow operation.
The city’s new marijuana rules address this unique situation by requiring a person growing marijuana at a residence to “reside at the site of the cultivation.”
The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission will consider the proposed rule changes at its meeting Thursday night.
Their recommendation will go to the Steamboat Springs City Council on Sept. 15.
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