Marijuana greenhouses approved in Missouri Heights
A second set of greenhouses for marijuana cultivation was approved Tuesday by the Eagle County commissioners on property in Missouri Heights known as Pleasant Valley Ranch.
Kathy Chandler-Henry, Jill Ryan and Sara Fisher voted unanimously to approve the special-use permit for a cultivation facility for applicant RFSC LLC.
The partners in the firm, Aspen resident Rob Holmes and Pete Tramm, of Basalt, received approval for two greenhouses of 4,000 square feet each, a 5,000-square-foot barn and a 1,000-square-foot storage facility. They want to grow marijuana to supply their existing retail pot shop in Eagle-Vail and another retail shop that is scheduled to open in November in Basalt.
Once the greenhouses are fully operational, they will have 1,100 plants, according to their application.
A separate application for greenhouses in Pleasant Valley Ranch was approved by the Eagle County commissioners in July. The Alexander Co. received permission to build four greenhouses totaling 6,912 square feet. Those greenhouses are under construction.
Pleasant Valley Ranch is located about 10 miles from El Jebel, according to a presentation to the county commissioners. An application erroneously said it is 8 miles from El Jebel.
Elaina McNulty was the only member of the public to speak at the one-hour hearing on the latest proposal. She said her parents bought the ranch decades ago, and she and her mother developed the large-lot, rural subdivision.
“I feel this is way overdone,” McNulty said. “It’s very inappropriate for the area.”
She also claimed the operations would “disrupt” residents of Pleasant Valley Ranch and an adjoining subdivision, Ten Peaks Mesa. She didn’t define how they would be disrupted.
McNulty contended that the water the property is entitled to is intended to irrigate the land, not be used for marijuana plants in greenhouses. She objected to the treatment of marijuana cultivation as agriculture.
“It certainly isn’t real agriculture,” she said.
The application by RFSC states that its proposed use is compatible with Pleasant Valley Ranch’s history.
“We have chosen this site because we view our work as an agricultural operation in nature that is no different than the historical haying, cattle ranching and agricultural operations that are deeply rooted and honored in this area,” the application said.
Chandler-Henry thanked McNulty for her comments but noted Eagle County officials felt marijuana cultivation was a legitimate agricultural use after Colorado voters approved recreational use of marijuana. Land-use regulations were written to reflect that direction.
“In Eagle County, we have felt like marijuana cultivation is agriculture,” she said. In addition, the application by Tramm and Holmes was compatible with the overall county master plan and sub-area plans, she noted.
If people start to feel differently about the compatibility of marijuana cultivation facilities in their rural neighborhoods, that’s something the county could consider in the future, Chandler-Henry concluded.
Tramm said construction of the RFSC greenhouses probably wouldn’t start until spring.
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State department of transportation crews are well on their way to clearing Highway 82 to Independence Pass, which should open on schedule May 27 at noon.