Hayden officials open to marijuana growing operation | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden officials open to marijuana growing operation

— There were very few objections Thursday night to allowing commercial marijuana growing operations in Hayden.

After a request from resident Rodney McGowen, the Hayden Planning Commission met to consider whether it thought grows should be allowed in the town. McGowen wants to open a grow facility in the 3,300-square-foot warehouse he owns in the Valley View Business Park. He has struggled to lease the building.

“So now I am faced with a decision of letting it go back to the bank or try to do something else with it,” McGowen told commissioners.

The town does not currently allow any marijuana operations, and the discussion was only about grow operations. While the grow operation would produce minimal revenues for the town, it could create jobs, and commissioners and members of the public saw it as an economic development opportunity.

“I think the town needs to be careful what it says ‘no’ to,” commissioner Amy Williams said. “We’re not thriving, so I am very open to the discussion.”

Commissioner Jared Aylor was also open to the idea.

“I don’t think we would want it downtown, but maybe in a light industrial,” Aylor said.

Commissioner Donna Hellyer was not on board.

“The very fact that the (federal) government doesn’t allow it is very concerning to me,” Hellyer said.

The purpose of the meeting was for town staff members to see what kind of rules should be put in place for any grow operations. The commission at a later time will make a recommendation to the Hayden Town Council, which will ultimately decide whether grows should be allowed.

“We’re taking the slow and easy route trying to do it right,” Town Manager David Torgler said.

Commission members were asked their opinions on several rules that could be put in place, such as how many such operations should be allowed, the size and where they should be located.

“I think too many could be bad,” commissioner Angie Robinson said.

They also discussed how to deal with odors coming from the building and application fees.

“I don’t think it would be reasonable to expect that there would be no odor,” Williams said.

Commissioners said they wanted more information about rules that other Colorado communities have put in place.

About 20 residents attended the meeting.

“As someone who was completely against this at one point in time, I think it’s smart of you guys to craft an ordinance,” Patrick Delaney said. “You should send something on to town council and have them consider it.”

Some residents said more research needed to be done, and town leaders should move forward cautiously.

“I’m not 100 percent on either side of this,” Leslie Hockaday said.

Travis Mathey told commissioners he moved to Hayden for his kids, and he voted against legalizing marijuana.

“After I thought about it, the conclusion I came to is it really doesn’t affect my kids at all,” Mathey said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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