No decision on Basalt-area grow operation
A majority of Pitkin County commissioners voted Wednesday to put off making a decision until next month on a Basalt-area woman’s application to start a retail marijuana growing operation.
Commissioners Patti Clapper, Steve Child and Michael Owsley voted to continue Candace Resnick’s application until Sept. 28 to give her time to try to clear up issues associated with it, including allowing neighbors who haven’t yet been consulted about it to comment.
However, Commissioners George Newman and Rachel Richards voted against that plan, with both saying they’d prefer to deny Resnick the license and readdress her application in the future when issues they felt would take longer than a month to resolve can be dealt with.
“There are far too many fatal flaws (with the application) for my personal taste,” Richards said. “I’m not feeling that this one is appropriate.”
Resnick, 68, told commissioners she wants to convert the ceramics studio at her home on West Sopris Creek Road to a grow house. She said her hands and back can no longer handle the impacts of creating pottery, and that her main motivation for starting the grow operation is to be able to stay in her home.
“I’m a responsible businessperson,” said Resnick, adding that she doesn’t smoke marijuana. “It’s going to be completely low-key.”
Resnick was seeking a conditional approval, meaning that commissioners would make a list of conditions she must meet before she could begin growing marijuana. Resnick wanted it that way because she didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the project then be denied by the county board.
One of the main issues that arose Wednesday involved Resnick’s neighbors. While she received permission for the grow operation from the Crystal River Caucus, which is the appropriate caucus for her location, the impacts of her proposed business would solely be felt by the Emma Caucus, said Liz Newman, a member of the caucus and Commissioner Newman’s wife.
Members of the Emma Caucus were not consulted about the business.
Liz Newman said Resnick’s residence and a neighboring residence were not included in the Emma Caucus boundaries because of an error. The Emma Caucus only recently learned about the error, she said.
David Myler, an attorney representing the 41 homeowners of the Sopris Mountain Ranch Homeowner’s Association and two other nearby clients, said all were opposed to the grow operation. Those neighbors only learned of Resnick’s application a week ago and want more time to gather information about it and make further comments, he said.
Another significant issue with the application involved water. Resnick must petition water courts to change her well water use from residential to commercial, which Clapper said can be an expensive and lengthy process. Myler said he’s consulted a water attorney, who didn’t think water courts would even authorize the change.
The issue of access to the property also appeared thorny. Resnick’s driveway crosses both Bureau of Land Management land and another private property through an easement that doesn’t allow commercial activity, Myler said. In addition, crossing federal land to transport a drug still deemed illegal by the U.S. government could pose problems, he said.
Finally, Richards and Liz Newman pointed out that because of Resnick’s remote location, public safety response in the event of a robbery or fire would likely take some time.
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