Routt County commissioners in no rush to finalize rural pot regs, even if voters pass excise tax | SteamboatToday.com

Routt County commissioners in no rush to finalize rural pot regs, even if voters pass excise tax

Partners study pot grow in rural Routt







— Business partners Pat Komar and Dan David told the Routt County Board of Commissioners Oct. 25 they are exploring the possibility of establishing a marijuana grow facility on a parcel of land southwest of Steamboat Springs should the county go forward with tentative plans to consider permit applications for grow operations in unincorporated Routt.

"I and some partners are interested in doing a small, family-owned cultivation operation," Komar told the commissioners. "I'm a CPA and a lawyer, and I volunteer in the community. I plan to stay here for the rest of my life. I see this as a great business opportunity to put my son through college. We'd also like to give back" to the community.

Komar’s comments were made during a work session at which the commissioners debriefed County Planner Alan Goldich about a recent Planning Commission meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to explore in detail possible land use regulations that could be imposed on grow operations in unincorporated Routt County.

David is associated with a marijuana industry-related business, THC Mechanical. He works with established grow operations designing and installing ventilation and water systems. He said his expertise includes ensuring that neighbors of grow facilities are not disturbed by odor. He also consults with grow operations on mechanical systems that "pull" a significant amount of their water needs from the air in the form of "condensate."

During the recent Planning Commission meeting, Commissioner Troy Brookshire proposed that grow facilities in unincorporated Routt be limited to no more than 4,000 square feet. County Commissioner Doug Monger said this week that sounded reasonable to him.

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It turns out that Komar and David have something smaller in mind. Following the meeting, David said his current plan is to build a grow facility of about 700 square feet.

Based on the town of Oak Creek's guidance that grow facilities require 100 square feet of space for every dozen marijuana plants, David and Komar might grow as few as about 84 plants at a time.

County commissioners made it clear this week they would not be interested in going forward with the process of creating land use regulations for grow operations should the voters reject Referendum 1A. The ballot measure would allow the county to raise $500,000 in taxes annually by imposing a 5 percent excise tax on the wholesale pot grown in rural grow facilities.

"I think that tax question (determines) if we want to go down that road at all," Commissioner Doug Monger said. "If the tax question doesn't get passed, I don't see a lot of reason for us to be moving this forward."

Nor are the commissioners inclined to rush the crafting of the necessary regulatory and land use rules on rural pot grows here before the current moratorium prohibiting them expires at the end of the year.

"There's no rush at all," Commissioner Cari Hermacinski said. "It's unreasonable to think we'll get land use regulations by the end of the year."

Hermacinski and Monger agreed that if the tax passes, the moratorium could be renewed in early 2017, with the intention of revoking it when the necessary regulations are in place.

Monger added that should the excise tax fail, the county knows that the town of Hayden is prepared to accommodate new grow operations.

David told the county commissioners the grow facility he anticipates building would rely on LED lighting, would not use soil in order to avoid soil contamination, and there would be no use of pesticides.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1