Controversial commercial marijuana grow decision delayed in Saguache County

Planning commissioners plan to visit site

SAGUACHE COUNTY, Colo. – The county planning board postponed a decision Thursday night on whether to give approval for a large-scale commercial marijuana grow facility in a rural area of the county.

The planning board members want to do an onsite walk through before making their decision, Saguache County Planning Commissioner Bill Mcclure said.

The proposal is opposed by a couple who purchased adjacent land last year to build their dream house. They haven't started construction.

Mischa Vining-Doyle and Shiloh Jackman worry a commercial grow facility near them will overshadow their views and the rural lifestyle they seek.

The facility is proposed to have 1,800 marijuana plants and a 12,000 square-foot footprint. That includes an eight-foot-high chain-link fence. The facility is also intended to have security cameras and diesel generators for power, according to a 2017 letter of intent from Michael Barkl, of Aurora.

Barkl said Friday the generators will be encased in a box with padding and a sound filter so the noise will not travel off his property. He says the greenhouse will have curtains and the security lights outside will be motion detected and only turn on when someone triggers them.

"It's common for farms and industrial buildings, whether they are here in Nebraska, Iowa or anyplace else to have security lighting," Barkl told Denver7 Friday.

He dismissed claims the large grow will affect neighbors' way of life.

"Everyone who buys property has the right to do with the property as they want," he said. "As an example, if I wanted a pig farm, that would be much worse."

Barkl said the area closest to Jackman and Vining-Doyle's property will be an outdoor grow that is all organic, without pesticides.

He expects to use the area of his property farthest from Jackman and Vining-Doyle's for the greenhouse and said he would consider constructing the greenhouse as far away from their property as possible.

Jackson and Vining-Doyle say they are pleased with the delay by the planning commissioners.

"It's a small victory for sure, but we have our eyes on the long game," Jackman texted Denver7 investigative reporter Jace Larson after the decision to postpone. "The majority of concerned citizens in the Saguache County community are not against retail cannabis, but we want to integrate these large unsightly facilities in a healthy way by following and strengthening current regulations; and through intelligent, fair planning and development practices. This is a large rural county with plenty of space for us to all share without compromising the property rights and aesthetic values that make this area so special."

No date has been set for the nine planning commissioners to visit the land and see first-hand how close the grow will be to Jackman and Vining-Doyle’s proposed home, Saguache County co-administrator Wendi Maez said Friday. The visit will likely happen before the next scheduled meeting June 28, she said.

The county commissioners would still have to give final approval.

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