Pitkin County approves outdoor pot ‘experiment’

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

A majority of Pitkin County commissioners voted Wednesday to allow an already-permitted indoor marijuana facility to grow as many as 250 plants outdoors this summer.

Commissioners termed the deal a “one-year experiment” with the owners of Stash marijuana dispensary in Aspen, and they placed conditions on it, including the installation of a driveway camera on the property, keeping aesthetics in mind when building a fence around the outdoor grow and capping the number of outside plants at 250.

The biggest condition, however, was that commissioners can shut down the outdoor grow at any time if complaints about odors or other problems arise.

Commissioner George Newman cast the lone vote against the county’s first outdoor marijuana grow facility.

Garrett and Shawna Patrick, owners of Stash, have had a permitted grow facility in the county since 2011 without any complaints, said Jeanette Jones, the commissioners’ records manager. That facility is permitted to grow as many as 1,800 plants, though Garrett Patrick said he doesn’t come close to producing that many and didn’t need commissioners to add to the total number he is allowed to grow to include the outdoor plants.

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo also told commissioners he knew of no problems associated with the grow facility. Kurt Dahl, Pitkin County’s environmental health manager, said that few residents live near the facility, though the Rio Grande Trail runs near the property.

Questions about security dominated Wednesday’s discussion of the application.

Shawna Patrick said the state requires the outdoor grow area to be as hard to break into as the indoor grow building. To that end, state officials with the Marijuana Enforcement Department have said that a 9-gauge chain-link fence topped with barbed wire along with continuously monitored cameras that operate with infrared sensors, which trip alarms if interrupted, would be acceptable, she said.

The fence would attach the outdoor grow area to the indoor grow area, the Patricks said. County Attorney John Ely said the fence would need to be 8 feet high and be able to keep people out. The fence also would be screened with green, plastic material similar to that usually attached to fences around tennis courts.

Commissioner Rachel Richards said she wanted aesthetics taken into account when the fence and screen are constructed. The screen would be removed during winter.

Garrett Patrick said security was his main concern. He said his business has been “robbed violently” twice and he’s had drug dealers sit in his driveway on occasion. He said he wanted to keep news of the outdoor grow out of the newspaper because he’s concerned about his family’s safety.

When informed that the public hearing was being broadcast on GrassRoots TV, Garrett Patrick said it wasn’t as popular a media outlet as the two daily newspapers in Aspen.

However, it all might have been for naught. After the hearing, Garrett Patrick told a reporter that he would “100 percent” withdraw the application if news of the outdoor grow was printed in the newspaper.


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