You are here

Commissioners Reject Penrose MMJ Expansion

Citing a large concentration of medical marijuana businesses in Penrose and impacts upon neighbors next door the Fremont County Commissioner denied a request at their May 10th meeting to expand a medical marijuana cultivation business at the former Bikertown in Penrose.   Leif Wagner of Mile High Green Cross had sought a modification to his medical marijuana license to allow for expansion into an existing empty greenhouse in front of the former Bikertown building along Highway 115 as well as building another new greenhouse.

The resolution adopted by the Board of Commissioners in denying the expansion listed a number of findings including neighborhood impacts of marijuana odor to a pair of nearby restaurants and the fact that the Penrose area has an unusually high concentration of medical marijuana businesses.   Residents have repeatedly complained that more marijuana businesses along Highway 115 have a negative economic impact on their community.

The most controversial issue to emerge from the May 10th meeting was consideration by the commissioners to formally go on record in opposition to Amendment 69 on Colorado’s November ballot.  Amendment 69 would create a government run, single payer health care system paid for with $25 billion in new taxes.   Commission Chairman Ed Norden said he requested the agenda item intending to personally voice opposition to the proposed amendment.   Norden said he felt that signing a letter of opposition by the entire board would send an even louder message about how bad the amendment would be for Fremont County and Colorado.

Norden noted that the $25 billion collected under Amendment 69 would not be subject to Tabor limits and it would take Colorado from one of the lowest income tax rates in the nation to among the top ten states for income taxes.   Norden said the biggest unknown if the amendment were to pass is how many jobs could be lost because businesses would close their doors or avoid doing business in Colorado because of the 10 percent increase in payroll taxes.

Upon learning that the commissioners were considering a statement of opposition to Amendment 69, several supporters of the amendment appeared before the board asking them not take a public position or at least delay the matter for more study.   Pastor Bob Kippley said if the rate of cost increases for premiums, co-insurance and deductible continues on the same trajectory it has the last 20 years, many individuals and companies will find paying for health care impossible.   He said a systemic change is needed because of the suffering that the present health care system is causing the citizens of Fremont County.   Doug Smith said that beyond the issues within the amendment itself he believed the board should not take a position on behalf of the citizens of Fremont County and instead simply let the voters decide.

District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell said she doesn’t want to see Colorado be a guinea pig for health care, the way it has for legalizing marijuana.   Bell said “Amendment 69 does not give us that freedom of choice, and I am completely against it."

Commissioner Tim Payne said it concerns him that voters won't have an opportunity to make decisions once a 21 member board is seated, and if the amendment is written into the Constitution, it takes away the ability of legislators to tweak it if there is an issue.

The commissioners voted unanimously to write a letter publicly stating opposition to Amendment 69.

In other business at the May 10th meeting the commissioners:

  • Authorized the chairman to write a letter of support for the Upper Arkansas Area Council of Government’s 30 unit housing project that would be built along Justice Center Road.   The project would be targeted to assist homeless people;
  • Approved a modification to the Cranberry Park Planned Unit Development plan along Steinmeier Avenue to permit front setback changes;
  • Approved a professional services agreement with Reilly-Johnson Architects for design work on renovating the kitchen and laundry areas of the Fremont County Jail.   The design work fee will amount to $215,700;
  • Approved a water service agreement with the City of Florence for purchase of a ¾ inch water tap at the Fremont County Airport.   The water tap will serve new office space for the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention which will be headquartering at the airport.