Commissioners verify Spring Valley medical marijuana ‘grow’
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – One of two medical marijuana growing operations associated with a distribution center in downtown Glenwood Springs was verified by Garfield County commissioners on Monday, and will be referred to state regulators for formal licensing.
Commissioners determined that one of the so-called “Optional Premise Cultivation Operations” (OPCs) owned by Green Natural Solutions and located in a rural residential subdivision on Seven Oaks Road in Spring Valley southeast of Glenwood Springs, was in place before a county moratorium on such facilities was imposed in late June 2010.
However, the commissioners wanted more evidence from owner Shalynn Hofert that a second facility in a similar residential area of Silt Mesa was also operating before the moratorium was put in place.
Both facilities supply the Green Natural Solutions medical marijuana center, or dispensary, at 716 Grand Ave. in Glenwood Springs, Hofert said.
Verification by the commissioners that existing OPCs were in business prior to the county’s moratorium has become commonplace in recent months.
But Monday’s action was the first since the commissioners adopted a new set of land-use regulations in June that now govern new medical marijuana cultivation operations, loosely referred to as “grows,” in unincorporated parts of the county.
So far, there have been no applications for new growing operations, which are now restricted to the county’s commercial and industrial zone districts.
Such facilities must also meet a stringent set of requirements, including a 1,000-foot setback from schools, daycare centers, parks, churches and public buildings.
Growing operations can also restricted to supplying dispensaries located within Garfield County, and applications must go through an extensive land-use hearing process.
Two years ago, Garfield County voters were asked to decide three ballot questions related to medical marijuana, which was legalized by Colorado voters in 2001.
Local voters decided to prohibit dispensaries and the manufacture of marijuana-infused products in unincorporated areas of the county. But voters agreed by a small margin to allow growing operations.
Dispensaries and products manufacturing are still allowed by most municipalities in the county, including Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Rifle.
Hofert said at Monday’s hearing that the two growing operations are in compliance with state regulations regarding the number of plants allowed, security and other requirements of state law.
She provided lease agreements with the respective landlords that the Seven Oaks location has been in operation since Nov. 12, 2009, and the Silt Mesa operation since June 1, 2010.
Hofert said she received written permission from the homeowners association in the Homestead Estates subdivision where the Seven Oaks facility is located.
A handful of residents in the neighboring High Aspen Ranch subdivision showed up to protest the license verification request.
“Ours is a residential community, and a major part of our concern is for our families, children and grandchildren,” said Ron Weisser, chairman of the High Aspen homeowners’ association. “This property is immediately adjacent to some of the properties in our community, and none of us were ever notified.”
Hofert noted that when the operation was established there were no county rules about where such facilities could be located.
“We’ve been there since 2009, and a lot of the neighbors are just now aware of the operation,” she said. “I do not believe we are putting the public in danger.”
Commissioners determined that the state’s minimum licensing provisions had been met, and that the operation was in existence before the county moratorium.
However, because the lease for the Silt Mesa facility was signed within a few weeks of the county’s moratorium, commissioners asked for additional evidence, such as a utility bill or work invoice, as proof that it beat the deadline. Verification of that facilities will be revisited by the commissioners on Sept. 10.
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