Routt County government engages rules for rural pot grows | SteamboatToday.com

Routt County government engages rules for rural pot grows







— Fourteen days before the Routt County Board of Commissioners learns whether voters will clear them to collect a tax on marijuana grow operations, the commissioners will meet Oct. 25 to study the regulations they might consider imposing on those same pot entrepreneurs.

Following an Oct. 6 Planning commission workshop on the subject, County Planner Alan Goldich reported that a majority of planning commissioners were opposed to the idea of creating a permit process to enable grow operations that would sell to retailers. However, Planning Commissioner Troy Brookshire observed at the time that the push for enabling grow operations was coming from the Board of Commissioners and that if Planning Commission wants to have a voice in the standards that will be applied to future permit applications, it should continue to work on them, even if it "simultaneously states its opposition."

If you go

What: Routt County Board of Commissioners work session on land use regulations that might be applied to future marijuana grow facilities if they are enabled in the unincorporated regions of the county.

When: 1:30 p.m., Oct. 25.

Where: Commissioners' Hearing Room, Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs.

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No decision has been made by the Board of Commissioners to allow growing operations in unincorporated Routt County. However, as the town of Hayden has already done, the county is seeking voter permission to put an excise tax on marijuana grown for the retail market, in advance. The intent is to satisfy the requirements of the Taxpayers' Bill or Rights, which states that voters approve new taxes.

Commissioners don’t want wait for another election cycle to move forward, if grow operations are eventually approved in the county.

Commissioner Doug Monger said during a Oct. 20 election forum that, at this stage, he neither supports nor opposes entertaining permit applications for grow operations.

"I think it was responsible for the Board of Commissioners to put this on the ballot so you can decide (whether or not to allow the county to collect up to $500,000 in excise taxes on any new grow operations)," Monger said. "Routt County's master plan tries to drive all growth into the cities. (The county) is aware there are places in other metro areas that can't keep up with demand (for wholesale marijuana)."

The idea is to consider allowing "people to use their land in more of a rural setting."

One of the challenging considerations Planning Commission delved into Oct. 6 was how to establish criteria for limiting the size of the buildings that would house the grow operations.

Brookshire said there should be a link between the lot size and the size of the operation, then suggested starting by limiting the size of the cultivation structures to 4,000 square feet of the growing area. Other commissioners agreed.

Since then, Goldich has done more research on typical sizes of grow facilities in the region and how they are administered. He's expected this week to tell the Board of Commissioners that, in some cases, the size of a grow facility is driven by the number of plants it is allowed to grow by by the state of Colorado.

Oak Creek has established that every dozen plants requires 100 square feet of building space. That calculation translates into a grow facility authorized to grow 1,800 plants, for example, requiring a 15,000-square-foot facility.

Planning Commissioner Peter Flint said during the Oct. 6 work session he thought it premature to study standards for approving grow operations before first making a decision regarding their compatibility with the county master plan. However, Planning Director Chad Phillips reminded Flint that every application for a special use permit to enable a grow operation would be evaluated against the master plan on its own merits, and the new county standards would be the basis for making that decision.

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

If you go

What: Routt County Board of Commissioners work session on land use regulations that might be applied to future marijuana grow facilities if they are enabled in the unincorporated regions of the county.

When: 1:30 p.m., Oct. 25.

Where: Commissioners’ Hearing Room, Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs.