By Teresa L. Benns
SAGUACHE — Despite the county’s marijuana moratorium, the Saguache County Planning Commission (SCPC) continues to approve marijuana grows, after commissioners decided when the moratorium was announced that those who had already paid their application fees would be exempted from the moratorium.
Early in the day the commission juggled the agenda, sinking some reviews to the bottom and pushing up other reviews to the top. This resulted in several individuals appearing to object or comment on the proposed grows long after they had been heard. One of the citizens commented: “This is Saguache County — what do you expect.” Several complained they had not received proper notices for the meeting.
The board later passed a resolution not to change the agenda once a time for hearing applicants is set.
Grows approved by the commission included Cannamount, adjacent to John Werner’s property. Werner, active in water issues for decades, objected that the grow will adversely affect his application for a conservation easement for his property and will drive down the water table in the area.
Galen Myers told the SCPC marijuana is a plague in the community, and they need to stop approving conditional use permits until all questions are answered and they can get a hold on the situation.
Vacant land and agricultural land issues were brought up again, and Land Use Administrator Wendi Maez said the county has to go by what category the assessor has assigned to the land.
Next on the list was Southwest Solutions, off County Road T, which was judged to have everything in order. Purple Mountain Farms, also off County Road T, was approved pending the erection of a permanent residence on the property.
Corpore Sano, on County Road 59, brought the largest volume of comments, with nearby resident Lisa Rosen advising applicant Gregory Gershengorin he is surrounded on all sides by illegal grows. Gershengorin revealed he will be extracting oils on site, and Rosen warned that if anything happens the entire area “will go up like a tinderbox in this drought.” Volunteer fire departments in the area will not be able to do anything, she noted.
Gershengorin replied that he has no control over such activity but that his presence could eventually drive illegal grows out of the area. Code enforcement officer Wayne Clark told the commission that he has contacted Denver and is waiting for the go ahead to pursue illegal grows sometime this summer. Sheriff Dan Warwick is all for cracking down on the grows, Clark said, but has fewer deputies now than when he first started.
A citizen from the Villa Grove area said he felt it was his duty to notify the commission that Gershengorin had ties to South America and the owner of the company, although listed as a Miami, Fla., resident, was originally from Venezuela. He said he felt these ties should be investigated further before approving the grow.
PC member Bill McClure chastised the Villa Grove man, telling him that what he had just said had no bearing on the grow approval and should not have been brought up. The Villa Grove resident told McClure he would do well to look into it.
The PC approved the grow.