Basalt-area pot grow denied
Pitkin County commissioners on Wednesday denied a woman’s request to start a marijuana growing operation at her Basalt-area residence.
Candace Resnick, 68, had asked the board to grant her a conditional license for the small-sized grow, which she estimated would have about 75 plants, before she spent money satisfying those conditions. Had the license been granted, Resnick would not have been allowed to grow anything until those conditions were met.
“I do not find I can approve a conditional license,” Commissioner Rachel Richards said. “It would be kind of unconscionable to lead you down that path.”
Richards said she worried about the money Resnick would have to spend to get a license. And even if that happened, she said there’s no guarantee that future county boards would continue to renew it every year.
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Richards also said she was concerned about possible fires in the area, lack of proper legal access to Resnick’s property and the fact that a marijuana grow operation didn’t conform to the neighborhood.
Resnick told commissioners in August she wanted to convert a ceramics studio on her property on West Sopris Creek Road to a grow house. She said she physically couldn’t handle the stresses of creating pottery anymore but that she still needed to have an income to be able to stay in her home.
Resnick said she would grow about 75 large plants at a time in the ground while maintaining a separate greenhouse with about 75 smaller plants.
Davis Farrar, a land-use planner who’s worked on larger grows in Debeque and Parachute, told commissioners that Resnick’s 1,700-square-foot proposal was small enough not to impact any adjoining properties. Farrar said Resnick was a longtime friend who he volunteered to help through the county licensing process.
The Crystal River Caucus, of which Resnick is a member, approved her proposal. The Emma Caucus, whose borders begin near Resnick’s home, voted against her idea, saying that it would absorb all the impacts associated with the grow.
The two main legal problems with Resnick’s application involved her lack of water rights for a marijuana grow and a driveway easement across an adjoining property that forbids commercial or any uses that violate federal law.
Resnick planned to petition a water court to try and change those rights if commissioners granted her the conditional license. She also proposed bypassing use of her driveway and hiking out or using snowmobiles or ATVs to transport harvested marijuana from her property to a different access nearby on Dinkle Lake Road.
However, those two issues proved too unworkable for commissioners.
“The main problem to me is, I don’t think you have legal access with your driveway,” Commissioner Steve Child said.
Commissioner Patti Clapper said approvals granting access and water rights will take years to come to fruition, while Richards worried that conditional approval of a license might land the county smack in the middle of a lawsuit.
Commissioner Greg Poschman agreed with his colleagues, saying he wasn’t comfortable with the numerous unresolved issues.
Commissioner George Newman abstained from voting on the application because of a suggestion raised at Wednesday’s hearing that he might favor the concerns of the Emma Caucus. Newman’s wife, Liz Newman, volunteers as secretary of the Emma Caucus and has repeatedly spoken out against Resnick’s project. In August, George Newman voted against Resnick’s application.
Still, the access and water issues weren’t the only problems with the application cited Wednesday, with six of Resnick’s neighbors appearing at the hearing to condemn the idea.
Jan Rietdijk, president of the Sopris Mountain Ranch Homeowners Association, said he worried about possible crime associated with the grow as well as wildlife impacts. Others cited the possibility of lower neighborhood property values, higher insurance rates and lack of neighbor support for the project.
“This is a difficult result, Candace,” Clapper said. “I’m sorry. I really am.”
Resnick declined to comment after Wednesday’s hearing.
Commissioners have previously authorized two other grow operations in Pitkin County — one in Holland Hills near Basalt and one in Old Snowmass. They also granted a license to a facility last year that makes marijuana-infused buffalo jerky at the Aspen Business Center.
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Pitkin County public health authorities increased social distancing restrictions for residents Wednesday and lengthened the amount of time they will be in place until the end of April.