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Commissioners Deny Penrose Marijuana Expansion

The Fremont County Commissioners voted at their August 23rd regular meeting to deny an application for expansion of a medical marijuana cultivation facility in Penrose.   Today’s Health Care at 934 C Street in Penrose was seeking to build another five greenhouses in addition to the three existing greenhouses on the site.  Facility Manager Kyle Wendland told the commissioners the request for five additional greenhouses on the site was not an effort to increase plant count, but rather to make operations more efficient and provide more odor mitigation.   Wendland said they are trying to add a lot more plants, but trying to spread them out and have less concentration in the greenhouses so odor mitigation will be more effective.    Wendland said Today’s Health Care currently cultivates 2,000 marijuana plants for 33 patients.

Several Penrose residents spoke in opposition to the expansion complaining about marijuana odors from the operation and trash and debris piling up against neighboring properties.   Barb Elliott told the commissioners, “I don’t buy their plant count story.”   District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell made the motion to deny the expansion saying that she believes Penrose residents have already absorbed enough from medical marijuana grow operations.   Today’s Health attorney Dennis Linden argued that the greenhouse expansion is a permitted use in the agricultural zone and noted that code enforcement officers have never cited the operation for odor violations.  The commissioner’s motion to deny indicated that findings on the action would be stated at the board’s September 13th meeting.

The commissioners also voted at the August 23rd meeting to renew a Temporary Use Permit for Diana’s Pumpkin Patch at 1649 Poplar Avenue which will operate from September 17th through October 31st.    Sue Madone again addressed concerns from neighbors about parking along the narrow streets in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.   Madone said with the off street parking they have created plus parking on the right of way along their property they have 225 parking spaces available.   The fall festival event has grown annually and the parking problems have prompted some neighbors to repeatedly call the Sheriff.    Madone said the event is hugely popular for kids and families.   She noted that this year their corn maze is one of 19 corn mazes across the nation to have corporate sponsorship from Culver’s Restaurants.   It is the only site in Colorado being sponsored by Culver’s this year.

The commissioners also reviewed the 2015 county audit report with auditor John Cutler of Cutler and Associates.    Cutler addressed with the commissioners an issue raised again in the auditor’s management letter in which he noted that the County Treasurer’s Office continues to manually perform several bank reconciliations outside of the County’s financial software system.    He said they also urged that the Treasurer consult with the financial system consultant to correct the clerical error that is causing system cash reconciliation error.

The commissioners addressed the matter with County Treasurer Kathy Elliott during the meeting and noted that this is the second consecutive year that the auditor has called out the reconciliation error.   Board Chairman Ed Norden said the commissioners would expect that the error be corrected for the current year and that the Treasurer’s Office undertake the necessary training to reconcile county cash transactions within the software system.

In other business at the August 23rd meeting the commissioners:

  • Set a formal hearing for 10 a.m. on September 13th to review performance under the ambulance licenses held by Deer Mountain Fire District and Arkansas Valley Ambulance and discuss ongoing conflicts between the two agencies;
  • Gave final second reading approval to an ordinance amending certain provisions that regulate cultivation of marijuana by property owners and caregivers.   Among the amendments, in order for a property owner to be allowed to grow up to 99 marijuana plants on ten or more acres they must be at least a 50 percent owner of the property in question;
  • Voted to suspend fire restrictions upon recommendation of the Sheriff due to recent rainfall;
  • Awarded a bid to Maxwell Asphalt of Salt Lake City to perform work on the Fremont County Airport runway maintenance project.   The total project cost is $312,353.   The Federal Aviation Administration pays 90 percent of the cost;
  • Awarded a bid to Patch Construction in the amount of $24,561 to hook up utilities at the Fremont County Airport for the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention’s new offices;
  • Approved a lease agreement with the City of Florence for $750 a month for temporary use of commercial kitchen facilities at Florence City Hall while the Sheriff’s jail laundry and kitchen renovation project is underway;
  • Ratified a vote of approval to sign the contract with Nunn Construction in the amount of $2,591,000 for the jail renovation;
  • Approved an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Cañon City which will allow the city to erect communications equipment on the roof of the Fremont County Judicial Building which is part of the city’s electronic monitoring of utility systems.