Residential Lots Ok For Medical Pot

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  Residential Lots Ok For Medical Pot

Posted by CN Staff on January 06, 2011 at 05:23:56 PT
By Heather Scofield, Herald Staff Writer 
Source: Durango Herald 

Colorado -- La Plata County commissioners cleared the way Tuesday for some residential and agricultural property owners to build or modify secondary structures on their properties for the purpose of growing medical marijuana. The move was made against strong opposition from Commissioner Kellie Hotter, who wanted to forestall action until impending state regulations are in place. 
"We have until July to sort things out," Hotter said. "I just think it wouldn't be prudent to allow commercial operations on residential properties right now." Commissioners last month adopted a temporary land-use permitting process for medical marijuana operations. The codes cover issues including setbacks, operating hours and odors. Codes will sunset later this year when permanent state and county rules are adopted. Tuesday's decision added provisions to allow residents to obtain permits for secondary structures for growing operations on residential lots that are 10 acres or larger. Permits also will be available to agricultural property owners. The permissable size of the secondary structures is 5,000 square feet for agricultural lots and residential lots of 20 acres or more, and up to 1,500 square feet for residential lots of 10 to 20 acres. The code dictates that the main dwelling on the property must be lived in, and only one secondary structure for medical marijuana cultivation is allowed. The code establishes setbacks and a minimum distance between the primary and optional buildings Because of state mandates designed to protect the privacy and security of medical marijuana growers, the county cannot put their permit requests through the typical neighborhood notification and compatibility processes. "We are struggling because we can't do the normal compatibility analysis," said County Manager Shawn Nau. And residential areas are where most neighborhood or property incompatibilities tend to occur, Nau said. Hotter said she feared opening the door to larger-scale growing operations on residential properties could create regulation nightmares for area homeowners associations that hadn't considered marijuana production impacts when creating their bylaws. It could also "pit neighbors against neighbors," Hotter said. Commissioners Joelle Riddle and Wally White, however, said they felt the temporary nature of the regulations made now a good time to test the issue. If problems or concerns arise, commissioners can address them as needed or in the county's permanent medical marijuana regulations set to be drafted later this year, they said. There are few commercial areas in the county for medical marijuana businesses to take their cultivation operations, and some large rural properties in the area could be ideal for keeping growing operations private and reducing neighborhood impacts, Riddle said. The commissioners and county staff repeatedly warned entrepreneurs and members of the public of the risks with building or modifying structures amid the current state and local regulatory uncertainties. "These regulations are temporary, and at this point it is a risky investment to start building a large facility," White said. Source: Durango Herald, The (CO)Author: Heather Scofield, Herald Staff WriterPublished: January 5, 2011Copyright: 2011 The Durango HeraldWebsite: CannabisNews Medical Marijuana Archives 

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