Odor monitoring ends at High Valley Farms marijuana grow near Basalt
A Basalt-area marijuana grow operation that was nearly shut down over odor complaints two summers ago will no longer have to pay for odor monitoring at the site.
That was the decision made Wednesday by Pitkin County commissioners, who also decided to allow future license renewals for High Valley Farms near the Holland Hills subdivision to be done on an administrative basis. The county board also renewed the grow facility’s license Wednesday, though commissioners warned that if problems arose again new conditions could be imposed.
The county has received no odor complaints since High Valley Farms owners — who also operate the Silver Peak dispensary in Aspen — installed a carbon filtration system two years ago at a reported seven-figure cost, county attorney John Ely said Wednesday.
Neighbors in the area rose up in protest during the summer of 2015 over skunky marijuana odors emanating from the High Valley Farms facility. Commissioners threatened to pull the operation’s license if the odors could not be contained.
On Wednesday, two Holland Hills residents asked commissioners about the process they could use if problems with the facility arose, but did not protest commissioners’ actions or lodge complaints about the grow operation.
Ely said he visited High Valley Farms in the last two weeks with other county staff members and found the operation to be ship-shape.
“It is one remarkably well-run facility,” Ely told commissioners Wednesday. “It really is impressive.”
Jordan Lewis, High Valley Farms’ co-owner, said he was happy to appear before commissioners with no complaints lodged against him. He also said he was gratified that some of the millions of dollars he pays each year in taxes is making its way back to Aspen and the Western Slope.
Lewis noted recent newspaper articles detailing $250,000 in marijuana tax money going to pay for a school resource officer at the Aspen public schools as well as $2 million in marijuana tax dollars recently provided to Mind Springs Health in the Frisco and Montrose areas to improve mental-health facilities.
“We’re contributing to the welfare of the community,” said Lewis, noting that he has three children attending Aspen schools. “As a business owner, that feels remarkably good.”
Even County Board Chairman George Newman — who has long been cool to the marijuana industry and cast the lone dissenting vote in September 2015 against renewing High Valley Farms’ license — said Wednesday he wanted to acknowledge the “substantial sales tax dollars for our schools.”
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The coalition wants to raise taxes on recreational marijuana to help children from low-income families, children with special needs and those falling behind their grade levels by providing certified out-of-school tutors.