County has budding interest in pot | SteamboatToday.com
YOUR AD HERE »

County has budding interest in pot

Looking only at grow facilities, no retail

Marijuana issues in Routt County
Marijuana

Future hearing dates

Future public hearings scheduled to consider taking permit applications for marijuana grow facilities in Routt County.

• Aug. 9 Initial work session with Board of County Commissioners

• Oct. 6 Consideration of adoption with Planning Commission. (If a second work session is needed, it will take place on this date.)

• Oct. 25 Consideration of adoption with BOC. (If a second work session is needed, it will take place on this date.)

• Nov. 17 Consideration of adoption with PC. (If a second work session was needed)

• Dec. 13 Consideration of adoption with BOC. {If a second work session was needed)

— Routt County has had a ban on state-licensed medical marijuana facilities since 2010 and a moratorium on retail marijuana facilities since March 2013, and those stances aren’t likely to change in the near future. However, the county is taking a new look at grow facilities in its rural areas, which are typically zoned agriculture/forestry, or AF.

At the request of the Board of County Commissioners, the Routt County Planning Commission undertook the first of a series of work sessions at which no vote will be taken on the matter, but instead, the planning staff will guide members of Planning Commission — and soon, the BOC — regarding a study of related issues, from water regulations to concerns about fire suppression.

Future hearing dates

Future public hearings scheduled to consider taking permit applications for marijuana grow facilities in Routt County.



• Aug. 9 Initial work session with Board of County Commissioners

• Oct. 6 Consideration of adoption with Planning Commission. (If a second work session is needed, it will take place on this date.)



• Oct. 25 Consideration of adoption with BOC. (If a second work session is needed, it will take place on this date.)

• Nov. 17 Consideration of adoption with PC. (If a second work session was needed)

• Dec. 13 Consideration of adoption with BOC. {If a second work session was needed)

“We are only talking about state-licensed operations,” County Planner Alan Goldich told Planning Commission. “We’re not talking about personal grows in your house or the caregiver model.”

Goldich has researched the policies of other counties that allow grow operations, as well as the experience of the South Routt town of Oak Creek.

At least preliminarily, some planning commission members were open to considering applications for special use permits allowing grow facilities as a commercial use in the AF zone district.

“I can get on either side of the fence,” Commissioner Bob Woodmansee said. One could draw an “analogy to intensive animal agriculture like feed lots. Nobody would argue those are agricultural uses. I think growing plants is kind of exotic, but that’s what we do with chickens. In this case, I think I’d lean toward calling it an exotic version of ag forestry.”

Commissioners John Merrill and Brian Arel agreed that well-written SUP’s could be allowed in the AF zone. Commissioner Pete Flint, however, had a different viewpoint.

“I’d say, ‘No, it’s commercial,’” Flint said. “If it’s not general agriculture, why would we consider it in the ag zone? In terms of the master plan, I’m having a hard time to see how this fits with our rural, agricultural Western character.”

Commissioner Troy Brookshire reminded the group that commercial operations in the AF zone are not a use, by right, and said he has concerns about how grow operations with perhaps two to 12 employees commuting to the business each day would mesh with the county’s master plan.

County Planning Director Chad Phillips pointed out to Flint that the county has a lengthy track record of allowing commercial uses in the AF zone under SUP’s.

“Recreation, gravel pits, the coal mine — they’re commercial,” Phillips said. “Don’t let that confuse you.”

Goldich added to the list of commercial operations that have been enabled by SUPs, including dog boarding facilities, golf courses, balloon rides and campgrounds.

Oak Creek Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Wisecup, who also interacts with the grow facilities in his town as fire chief and inspector, described how tight state regulations are on the grow facilities and the level of confidence those regulations give his town. Wisecup said, if anything, the odor that emanates from the grow facilities within the city limits can be the most objectionable aspect of the businesses for the public. However, he added, the operators are learning better strategies for masking the aroma.

City of Steamboat Springs Director of Planning and Community Development Tyler Gibbs made a similar observation in a letter responding to an inquiry from Goldich.

“We have reviewed this request for consistency with the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan and have found that this use is consistent and compatible with other agricultural uses in the county,” Gibbs wrote. “Our experience with cultivation uses within the city indicates that smell is often the most impactful aspect of this use and therefore, could be more appropriate and potentially better managed in an agricultural setting.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.
 

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


News


See more