Holland Hills odors likely from outdoor grows
Marijuana odors detected earlier this month in the Holland Hills neighborhood near Basalt seem to be coming from private grows and not from a commercial pot farm in the area.
That was the consensus Tuesday at a Pitkin County Board of County Commissioners meeting with the owner of High Valley Farms, who had to mitigate serious marijuana odors last summer after angry neighbors voiced complaints.
“There seemed to be some issues regarding private grows in the Holland Hills neighborhood,” Commissioner Rachel Richards said. “They could be causing additional issues.”
In September, Pitkin County required High Valley Farms owner Jordan Lewis to pay for a person to monitor odors coming from his facility after he installed carbon filters for odor mitigation. The county received no complaints about High Valley Farms between February and June 15, when three voicemail complaints about marijuana odors came in, according to a memo from county Environmental Health Director Kurt Dahl.
High Valley Farms staff was then able to identify a small leak in the HVAC system. Two days later, the odor monitor verified the leak had been fixed, the memo states. At that time, the monitor smelled a faint marijuana odor next to the facility but no odor at the property line, according to the memo.
Lewis characterized the leak as coming from a “pinhole,” and that “you had to put your nose right up to it to smell it.”
“I don’t think it was the source of the leak (complaints),” Lewis said.
Kent Schuler, a Holland Hills resident, said that instead of the “atomic bomb smell” of last summer, neighbors this summer are smelling “little odors” that may have previously been covered up by the strong odors coming from High Valley Farms.
Lewis warned that the smells could get worse this summer.
“You can expect a lot more odor this summer,” he said. “And guess what? It won’t be coming from me. It’s coming from all the outdoor grows in Holland Hills.”
Commissioner George Newman asked whether county officials could control private grows via the nuisance ordinance. Richards wondered what other communities are doing to deal with the issue. And both commissioners suggested the Holland Hills Property Owners Association contract with the odor monitor now paid for by Lewis to find out where the problem marijuana odor areas are.
However, according to Colorado’s Official Web Portal, home growers cannot grow marijuana outdoors.
“Marijuana plants must be kept in an enclosed, locked area that can’t be viewed openly,” the website states. “This means the plants can’t be outside.”
Minors in homes with marijuana growing cannot have access to the enclosed locked space, while homes without residents younger than 21 must still take “extra precautions … to make sure any visiting youth don’t have access to marijuana plants,” according to the website.
Home marijuana growers can grow as many as six plants per adult living at the home, though no more than three can be flowering at any one time, the web portal states.
Laws are different for medical marijuana card holders.
For his part, Lewis complained about having to pay to monitor the entire Holland Hills neighborhood. Richards said his point was legitimate.
“We can’t be placing blame on the farm when it’s not appropriate,” she said. “If odors are coming on to your property from others growing, that’s a problem.”
Still, both Richards and Commissioner Steve Child reminded Lewis that he agreed to pay for the monitor, which concentrates on his property only, for a yearlong period that ends in September.
“After that, it might be on us to do it,” Child said.
Lewis said the carbon filter installed after the neighbor complaints last summer “have exceeded even my expectations.”
“I think everything’s great,” he said. “There’s no issues at all.”
Otherwise, both Schuler and Holland Hills resident Heather Isberian said the county’s monitoring system should be more responsive. Schuler said he reported an odor in March and didn’t receive a prompt response, while Isberian said that the man who serves as the monitor lives in Carbondale and can’t get to Basalt fast enough to check out a smell complaint.
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