Debate grows over two marijuana greenhouses on Lower River Road
November 7, 2013
Nearly 50 people packed the Rio Grande meeting room on Wednesday to learn whether a pair of medical marijuana greenhouses will be allowed on a Lower River Road property.
Pitkin County commissioners were considering a Site Plan Review and request for Flexibility for Agricultural Support concerning the property at 2520 Lower River Road in Snowmass Canyon. Ron Radtke, owner of Green Essentials Medical, LLC, was hoping the commissioners would approve a request to put in 19,000 square feet of floor area for his proposed two greenhouses and ancillary buildings
After more than four hours of deliberation and public comments, the commissioners decided to visit the property and continue the debate at their Dec. 18 meeting.
While the property is zoned for agricultural use, area residents argued that putting in greenhouses — especially to grow marijuana — is a commercial use and ruins the rural character of the neighborhood.
Before the meeting began, Commissioner Rob Ittner reminded those in attendance that the meeting was to discuss a land-use application for an exemption of square footage requirements based on a special need for agriculture, not to issue any licenses.
Radtke was represented by Jay Maytin, who made a 45-minute presentation on the proposal for putting in the greenhouses. He highlighted how Radtke has been transparent in his intentions and meticulous in abiding by all codes and rules to keep impacts on the neighborhood to a minimum.
Attorney Jody Edwards then spoke on behalf of many of the Lower River Road residents; he made the case that the Radtke operation is being allowed in an area of Pitkin County that would have negative impacts on the rural character of the neighborhood.
Attorney Matthew Ferguson then spoke on behalf of several other residents that live along Lower River Road, including Marty Schlumberger, who made it clear he doesn't want any type of marijuana operation in his neighborhood.
Ferguson said the Radtke operation is commercial and not agricultural. At one point, Ferguson implied that if the county commissioners approved the request for more square footage to grow medical marijuana, they would be condoning a business that is in violation of federal law.
"The Colorado Constitution states clearly that the distribution and sale of marijuana is illegal under federal law," he said.
Most of the residents of Lower River Road that spoke at the meeting were clear they don't want the greenhouses near their homes and don't want the extra traffic and potential crime that could come with someone growing marijuana in their neighborhood.
Several members of Radtke's family and an employee from Green Essentials spoke in favor of Radtke and how he has always done business, which is, in their opinion, by the rules.
In the end, commissioners decided they needed more time to discuss the matter and voted 4-1 to table a decision at this time.