Letter: Set rules for grow operations
November 25, 2013
Editor's note: This letter originally was sent to the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners.
First, thank you for the apparent thoroughness of your research prior to making a decision regarding the Radtke application for a variance from the allowed 5,000 square feet of greenhouse to 19,000 in Phase 1, with an additional 19,000 square feet that may be requested in the future.
The size of this project is really quite stunning for our peaceful little Snowmass Canyon neighborhood. When the four-laning of Highway 82 was in the works, three alternatives were on the table. One was to move all four lanes to this side of the river, desirable because the sun is over here longer in the winter. What saved us? The wildlife, the bikers and the decision by the then-county commissioners to retain the bucolic nature of this small valley for wildlife, bikers and the rest of us.
I hope that you current commissioners would see the wisdom of that somewhat emotional decision on their part back then. In fact, it has been a hallmark of Pitkin County for decades to not mar the Highway 82 corridor and to maintain our "green belt." With the exception of the Aspen Business Center and the airport, this idea has been accomplished.
To now consider this monster-sized proposal would contradict everything that has been so carefully preserved over many decades. This new industry is coming at all of us fast and furiously. If a precedent is set by approving this variance for our small neighborhood, I believe you will have opened the proverbial Pandora's box.
You are being watched. And the growers are lining up. Time to set the appropriate rules and zoning in place for these types of operations before all is torn asunder. Needless to say, I would like to see a permanent moratorium banning such operations from small neighborhoods such as ours. If growers are directed to commercially zoned areas, they could easily build their greenhouses and have the infrastructure and parking they require without intruding on others. All that's needed is a guide. You are the ones to write and provide that guide.
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