Douglas County Commissioners have given preliminary approval to an ordinance that will place a 12-plant limit on “home grow” marijuana operations.
“Things are getting out of hand,” said Chief Steve Johnson, of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. “People are making major modifications to plumbing and electric wiring and those changes are often not up to code.”
Johnson says that can pose a danger if a fire breaks out and firefighters aren’t aware of the wiring changes.
At least 19 people have complained about home grow marijuana operations so far this year, according to the chief.
Hugh Hebert was one of them. He lives in the Perry Park area.
Last January, his neighbor’s house, on Winged Foot Drive, burned to the ground.
Hebert said the tenants, who were from Florida, were likely involved in a bootleg operation, growing marijuana and shipping it out of state.
The fire apparently began in the boiler, which was working round the clock.
“Had that fire had happened today, as hot and dry as it is, (instead of in the winter) Perry Park could have gone up in flames,” said Hebert. “The flames were shooting a hundred feet into the air and winds were blowing 35 miles an hour that night.”
The ordinance approved on first reading states:
· Marijuana may only be grown as an accessory use at the primary residence of the person conducting such activity.
· The space used shall be limited to a contiguous 1,000 cubic feet.
· The use of an accessory structure shall only be permitted on a lot, parcel or tract one acre or greater in size.
· Marijuana shall not be grown in more than one structure on any single lot, parcel or tract.
· It shall not be cultivated in the common areas of a multi-family or attached residential development.
· Any area used for growing or processing shall be fully-enclosed and locked.
· Any area used shall comply with all applicable building and fire codes.
· Non-residential buildings or structures that are not accessory to a primary residence shall not be used for growing marijuana.
· Marijuana shall not be grown outdoors.
The ordinance also states “At any given time, no more than 12 marijuana plants, in any stage of maturity, may be grown, cultivated or processed at a primary residence.
No compressed flammable gas, like butane, may be used in growing, cultivating or processing marijuana.
And the growing cannot be perceptible, meaning it can’t be visually seen from outside, no light pollution, no undue foot or vehicular traffic.
Commissioners also want to regulate smell.
They say the smell or odor of marijuana plants shall not be detectable by a person with normal sense of smell from any adjoining lot, parcel, tract, public right-of-way, or building unit.
They also want tenants who plan to grow pot, to get written permission from their landlord first.
Violators could face fines of $1,000 per violation.
Commissioners will have a second reading on the proposal August 9.