SAGUACHE COUNTY— A marijuana cultivation applicant initially approved by Saguache County officials to grow retail marijuana is facing several felony charges in Jefferson County filed last month by the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED).
Michael Edwin Barkl, 36, who purchased property adjacent to land owned by Shiloh Jackman and Mischa Vining-Doyle in northern Saguache County, already had begun constructing his grow operation without prior approval of the county. A hold was placed on the cultivation by the Saguache County Planning Commission (SCPC) in May after irregularities were brought to the attention of the SCPC.
According to Jefferson County Court records, Barkl’s charges, committed in 2017, initially included attempt to influence a public servant, Felony 4; two charges of forgery of a public record to a public official, Felony 5; two charges of offering a false instrument for recording, Felony 5, and two misdemeanor one charges for perjury two.
Following an advisement hearing last week, a disposition hearing was set for Nov. 15, 9 a.m. on Felony 4, Felony 5 and Felony 6 charges. Records of the proceedings did not indicate whether any charges were reduced and did not list the misdemeanor charges or the subject matter of the F6 charges.
Citizens warned the county
Jackman and Vining-Doyle believe the decision on Barkl’s application had been tabled by county commissioners in December 2017. Minutes from the December meeting show the decision was “postponed.” When Vining-Doyle and Jackman brought the problem to the planning commission (PC) in January, they were told by PC members that although the commission approved the application, they could still appeal to commissioners.
Public comment was limited by commission members at the meeting.
Even though Vining-Doyle objected that there were many irregularities in Barkl’s application and asked that the PC decision be reopened, PC member Bill McClure told her it would be contrary to parliamentary procedure and the case was closed. “How could this application take place when [the growers] were so negligent?” Vining–Doyle asked the commission. She was simply told again to take it up with commissioners at the Feb. 20 meeting.
The planning commission explained that when grow applications are brought to them they have no choice but to approve them if they seem in line with county regulations. McClure said the commission was simply “following the rules.” All the applications are forwarded to the commissioners for review anyway, Lynne Thompson said.
Land Use Administrator Wendi Maez explained that objections made by citizens are used only to modify the plans presented in applications to accommodate neighbors. There is no real way an adjoining property owner can stop a grow if it is presented to the commission in accordance with county (and state) regulations.
When Vining-Doyle and Jackman attended the public meeting held to consider a possible marijuana moratorium in January, they told commissioners they were not allowed to comment at any length at the planning commission hearing Jan. 25, noting, “We were not notified [the marijuana grow would be going in across from their property] in a timely fashion at all. The planning commission denied us our right to speak. Land use, the county commissioners and the planning commission are not properly researching these grows.”
Others at the meeting pointed out the many irregularities in many applications, including the fact that Barkl even described his operation as a non-profit.
In late May, the planning commission voted to table the grow until an onsite visit to Barkl’s proposed facility could be conducted. In July, Acting County Administrator and Land Use Administrator Wendi Maez confirmed that Barkl’s application was removed because he was under investigation by MED.
In a letter sent to the county in January, Jackman/Vining-Doyle provided a detailed list of the very violations Barkl was charged with in September. County residents attending commissioner and planning commission meetings expressed the same concerns. The couple explained their plight as follows:
“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.”
After writing the letter in January, they sent an official complaint to the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) detailing the irregularities in Barkl’s application based on documentation obtained by a private party. Those irregularities included:
• Barkl’s THC Inc. is registered as a non-profit. Under the Colorado Revised Nonprofit Act, control of the nonprofit corporation is under a board of directors. None of these directors were listed on Barkl’s business registration.
• A Facebook page appearing to be Barkl’s initially showed he was residing in Hong Kong, but now lists his place of residence as Colorado. Colorado Secretary of State rules require both the authority to transact business in Colorado and a usual place of business in Colorado in order to be appointed as a registered agent.
• Barkl was using a travelling UPS mailbox on his conditional use application and previously was flying in and out of Saguache for planning commission meetings.
• In his initial correspondence with Mischa and Shiloh to address their concerns about the proposed grow, Barkl included a signature using his South Dakota fireworks company and an South Dakota area code. Tiger Tooth Fireworks LLC is not registered to do business in Colorado. His Facebook page documents his plans for this business in 2018 in S.D.