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Commissioners Table Marijuana Ordinance a Second Time

Despite changes to a proposed ordinance regulating marijuana cultivation in unincorporated areas of Fremont County, the Board of County Commissioners decided to table the ordinance a second time.   District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell said the Board wants to make sure they “get it right” before adopting something that may not address all the concerns.   Language that was amended after the first reading on the ordinance on March 8th drew praise from medical marijuana caregivers at the March 22nd commissioners’ meeting.

The amended ordinance dropped all references to acreage limits of five acres and 20 acres and instead focused on a limit of 99 marijuana plants for caregiver grows.  Nathan Robinson, who grows marijuana as a caregiver year round, thanked the commissioners saying the changes represented a good balance.   William DeSpain who also protested the original limitations said he appreciated the revisions.   But regarding personal use marijuana growing, DeSpain said it boils down to neighbors being good neighbors.

Commissioners Bell and Ed Norden expressed last minute reservations.   Norden said while the Board attempted to address concerns raised by caregivers and medical marijuana patients who grow their own plants he feared the commissioners may have swung too far in the other direction.   Bell agreed noting that Pueblo County has a 36 plant limit for marijuana caregiver grows and wondered if that was a number Fremont County needed to move towards.   Bell said “there are a lot of people who do not think a 99 plant limit is a good compromise because it is way too many”.

The commissioners voted to table the ordinance again until their April 12th meeting.    Commission Chairman Norden said following more conversation by the board they hope to have the latest version of the revised ordinance posted on the county web site by April 1st so citizens can review any changes.

The commissioners approved an engagement agreement with George K. Baum Company at their March 22nd meeting for the financing of the Fremont County Jail renovation project.   Since voters approved a one cent sales tax increase for the Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Beicker has been accumulating cash reserves to help finance a complete renovation of the jail’s kitchen and laundry area.

County Finance Director Sunny Bryant said that despite the Sheriff’s efforts to set aside cash, a finance package will still be needed to complete the $5 million project.   George K. Baum will set up a finance package over a seven year period to pay for the renovation using proceeds from the sales tax.   Bryant said the project needed to be financed over seven years so the project can be paid off before the Sheriff’s one cent sales tax reaches its’ ten year sunset.

In other business at the March 22nd Board meeting the commissioners:

  • Approved a Conditional Use Permit for Bennie and Shawnee Koch to resume operations in the Iron Mountain Gravel Pit along Iron Mountain Road 1 ¼ miles east of Copper Gulch Road;
  • Reached agreement with Monty Holmes of Salida who operates Captain Zipline in the Wellsville area.   The commissioners agreed to modify his special review use permit and require him to pay 50 percent of the cost of dust suppressant on County Roads 7 & 45.   Commissioner Debbie Bell also asked that traffic counts be conducted on three occasions in spring, summer, and fall to determine impact from the zip line;
  • Approved a resolution honoring County Manager George Sugars upon his April 1st retirement;
  • Approved a series of bids for purchase of materials for Road & Bridge construction work this summer;
  • Adopted a proclamation declaring April to be observed as Child Abuse Prevention Month.