SAGUACHE — While Saguache Commissioners consider a marijuana moratorium and discuss appointing a task force to further study marijuana regulations, those who purchased land prior to the grow properties that continue to surround them are caught in the middle, forced to put their dreams on hold until further notice.
Property owners Mischa Vining-Doyle and Shiloh Jackman say they moved to Saguache County and purchased 35 acres of raw land July 10, 2017 on what is now 26644 Hammond Avenue. Recently they learned that a marijuana grow would be located within 1,500 feet of their property. Their letter, addressed to Saguache County Land Use, tells the story of many property owners in the area who have expressed concerns at meetings and in writing, but whose objections have not been addressed. Vining-Doyle and Jackman wrote:
“We came to this area seeking comfort, quiet, beautiful mountain views, fresh clean air and affordable land to build a small sustainable home and hobby farm. We are planning our family carefully and envision raising our children in a safe and healthy environment. When we purchased the lot at 26644 Hammond Ave, we imagined our kids riding their bicycles in a safe, low traffic residential/agricultural area.
“We have already invested a great deal of finances and effort in developing our land to accommodate our future home to be built on our little slice of peace and solitude. Purchasing this property is the manifestation of years of careful planning and deciding a precise location to settle to achieve our goals, and actualize our dream. Our progress thus far consists of a physical address, driveway, a new water well and we have had a soil engineer evaluate our building site and design a septic treatment system.
“This letter is an attempt to implore Saguache County Land Use Department to DENY the Conditional Use of premises permit for a retail marijuana cultivation facility located at 26758 Hammond Avenue, on the grounds that the proposed facility directly violates the Saguache County Marijuana Regulations, effective Jan. 1, 2017. Information about the owner’s intent is based on a copy of the conditional use permit application submitted by the owner of 26758 Hammond Avenue, (GII LLC, Michael E. Barkl, THC Inc.) obtained from the Saguache County Land Use Department. The Saguache County Marijuana Regulations state:
“No person may engage in marijuana production in a manner that adversely affects the health and safety of the nearby property owner(s) including, but not limited to:
“(This is an excerpt from page four, under “Marijuana production in Unincorporated Saguache County” from the scanned PDF document available at www.saguachecounty.net)
“The permit application states the land owner’s intent of outdoor and security lighting that will emit light pollution, glare and brightness in a residential area that will disturb the repose of many others. The application states: “Outdoor and security lighting will have motion censored lights on the outside of the structure and lights on top of fencing.” This is a direct violation of the Saguache County Marijuana Regulations. (B.)
“The permit application states the land owners' intent of powering approximately 100,000 watts of lighting and indoor garden equipment using diesel generators. This is a clear violation of marijuana regulations, as diesel generators exude a large amount of noise and vibration that will directly affect residents and property owners nearby 26758 Hammond. (C.) The exhaust from the diesel generators would also pose a threat to the health and safety of nearby property owners. Continuous exposure to diesel exhaust fumes can cause long term, or chronic respiratory illnesses and increased risk of lung cancer.
“The permit application states the landowners’ intent of creating traffic for business reasons and/or the owner’s family and friends. The application also states the intent of a parking area for parked vehicles. This violates marijuana regulations in that it will cause undue vehicular traffic (D.) A Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facility of this size and nature requires a significant number of employees and therefore undue traffic from arriving and departing employees.
“Other sources of undue traffic include, but are not limited to water hauling trucks, delivery of supplies/services and distribution of product. Hammond Avenue is not maintained by Saguache County. The undue traffic caused by this facility would certainly cause further degradation to the already poorly maintained dirt road and that the residents in the area would be unfairly burdened to maintain this road when the majority of new traffic would be directly caused by this proposed facility.
“These are just three instances where the landowner’s intent stated in the conditional use application, if permitted, clearly violate Saguache County Marijuana Regulations and Saguache County Land Use would be violating marijuana regulations by approving this conditional use permit. I would also like to bring to attention that there are several violations that have already been committed regarding their responsibility to demonstrate their intentions to the public: First, the owner did not post the address signage within 30 days of the date the address was issued by the land use office.
“Second, the conditional use permit signage was not placed until sometime after Dec 12, 2017 (after Dec 12, 2017 or before Dec 18, 2017) and has been obscured by red spray paint. Finally, we have not received a letter of intent or any other notice by the owner. The application states that all land owners within 1500 feet of proposed facility are to be notified by a certified letter. We were not given a proper amount of time to give comment or garner support in rebuttal. I will also state that Saguache County does not currently possess an adequate number of law enforcement officers to properly police and regulate the current number of Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facilities in Saguache County, let alone any new marijuana cultivation facilities.
“There are news articles cropping up all over the Internet and paper news syndicates that are expressing the necessity for a more robust process pertaining to the permitting and regulating of marijuana grows, citing Saguache County specifically for showcasing many problems that can arise with improper regulation. At the very least, if this facility’s conditional use permit were to be approved, it is imperative that it follow Saguache County Marijuana Regulations and Colorado State regulations to their full extent.
“If the Saguache County Land Use Department approves this permit, we will be forced to sell our property, possibly at a loss and will have to reconsider whether Saguache County is an ideal location to build our home and raise our family. We cannot conceive living well, at decent standards with a Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facility as our bordering neighbors. The IBC classifies a Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facility as an F-1 Occupancy, Factory Industrial, Moderate Hazard. Saguache County hosts an abundance of inexpensive land with areas that would better accommodate a Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facility, providing better access to water and electricity services, while not being so close to families and farms.” (End of letter)
Barkl’s conditional use permit is up for review with the Saguache County Planning Commission Thursday, Jan. 25. The planning commission’s decision and Barkl’s reply to Vining-Doyle and Jackman will be covered in part two of this series.