High Valley Farms passes its first smell test
When it comes to marijuana odors coming out of a Basalt-area grow operation, the real proof the problem has been fixed will come this summer.
That was the consensus Tuesday from both Pitkin County commissioners and two neighbors who live in the Holland Hills subdivision near High Valley Farms. Meanwhile, commissioners will continue to hold quarterly meetings to review the odor problem.
“It definitely has decreased,” said Heather Isberian, one of the neighbors. “But let’s get through a full summer before we say the situation is under control and gone.”
Isberian said she last detected the skunk-like odor from the growing marijuana in late November but didn’t report it.
Another neighbor, Kent Schuler, said he smelled an odor around the beginning of the year as he walked by and was surprised because it was cold outside.
Commissioners approved High Valley Farms’ license Sept. 23 on the condition that owners control the odor. At the time of the renewal, co-owner Jordan Lewis had just spent a seven-figure amount to install a carbon filtration system that seems to be working.
Tuesday was the first quarterly meeting to address the smell. Such meetings were also a condition of the license renewal.
A third-party monitor has detected no odor since Sept. 15, according to an odor log. Also, county officials have not received any complaints from neighbors in that time, said Environmental Health Director Kurt Dahl.
Neighbors with complaints can call 970-279-1375 to report odors.
Lewis said the filtration system has been working well.
“We’ve accomplished what we said we would, and I’d like the board to acknowledge that,” Lewis said.
Commissioner Patti Clapper said she’s received calls about odors in the area but suspects it’s probably consumption-related rather than grow-related.
Dahl also said he’s received a complaint about the farm using recovered irrigation water from the marijuana to water landscaping around the property. Lewis said state law allows him to re-use the water in the summer and truck it off the property in the winter.
If they didn’t re-use the water, the alternative would be to go out and buy more fertilizer to use on the trees they’ve planted on the property, he said.
Dahl said the county can regulate the use of the water if it’s classified as wastewater. However, if it’s classified as irrigation water, it cannot. He’s working with the county attorney’s office to determine the definition, he said.
“The program seems like it’s working for the most part,” said Commissioner George Newman, who cast the only vote against the license renewal in September. “Summer will be the real telling test.”
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