Planning commission okays grows

SAGUACHE — At their Jan. 25 Planning Commission (PC) meeting, planning commission members reviewed four marijuana grow applications, declining to review one the commission had already approved and approving the other three applications. This brings the total number of approved grows in the county to 29.
Commissioners were asked to review the first application regarding Michael Barkl but since Barkl was not there and the application had already received previous approval, they referred the final action to commissioners instead. They rejected a plea made by Mischa Vining-Doyle and Shiloh Jackman to reconsider the approval. The couple told the PC no one had informed them in a timely manner that the grow would be erected on the border of their property.
The second application involved the possibility that the applicant would need two separate licenses, one medical and one retail, since he told them he planned to grow retail but sell the product for medical research purposes. The PC was not certain how to proceed as there was confusion about the licensure.  
Bill McClure said he was “mad as hell” because the confusion and uncertainty about following the regulations is why they are getting “chewed out.” Alternative PC member Steve Carlson also told the commission there was no proof the proposed grow had access to a water source. Chairperson Rebie Hazard noted the application they had was not correct.
Richard Drake proposed the motion be postponed until incorrect dates on the application could be corrected. But the application was approved 5-2 pending satisfaction of certain conditions.
Homeowners said the third applicant was blocking their views and driving down property values. They also said he had water, chemical and fertilizer issues. The applicant said he is using all organic pesticides and has provided a total of 15 full and part-time jobs. Other citizens objected that the caliber of those coming into the Valley to work for the grows are part of the problem.
After further discussion, the third applicant also was approved to grow pending satisfaction of stated conditions.
The fourth applicant flew in from North Carolina, a fact questioned by Bonanza resident Bill Case based on residency requirements in state and local regulations. The applicant protested that he paid $5,000 for his out-of-state license, but it still was not clear if all the regulations for a grow operation in the county had been satisfied.
Neighbors said they are downwind of the grow and the spring winds will carry any odors associated with the grow right into their property. They also said the roads in the area would suffer from increased traffic.
Because some building already had begun on the site prior to approval and neighbors were not notified, McClure set the review of the conditional use permit by commissioners back 30 days, but the application was approved.
During a discussion that followed the application approvals, McClure said he is not in favor of a marijuana moratorium. But if there has to be a moratorium, he suggested it be set for 90 days. Land Use Administrator Wendi Maez agreed it could be done within that time period.
After further discussion, the PC voted to recommend a 120-day moratorium to commissioners.

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