CA: Boulder County To Consider Proposed Hygiene Marijuana Growing Facility


A proposed indoor marijuana facility has stirred opposition among many residents and business owners in Hygiene, the tiny unincorporated community west of Longmont.

Robert Gourley, the owner of the commercially zoned property at 7593 Hygiene Road, is seeking county permission to change the property’s present primarily residential use to allow construction and operation of a building where marijuana would be cultivated and marijuana-infused products manufactured.

Boulder County’s Land Use Department staff determined that Gourley’s application met pertinent county code standards and qualified for granting the use-change application.

Marijuana establishments are a use by right in commercial zoning districts, as long as other Land Use Code requirements are met. Gourley is proposing deconstruction ( of the existing house and another building on the property and construction of a new facility that would occupy 3,969 square feet above grade and would have a 3,929-square-foot basement.

The Board of County Commissioners, however, decided in June to schedule a public hearing on the application, in part because of the number of emailed letters the county received expressing concerns about the proposed facility, its proximity to Hygiene Elementary School at 11978 N. 75th St. and its compatibility with the community’s existing homes and businesses.

That public hearing and possible commissioners’ action to accept, modify or reject the county staff’s approval recommendation is set for Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re not here to do anybody any harm,” said Joshua Henningsen, Gourley’s partner in BioMassSolutions, which would occupy the new building.

Henningsen, who was at the site Monday, said BioMassSolutions is “looking to set an example for other communities of how well it could be done.”

“We are looking to meet every standard the county requires” about such things as odor controls, security and outdoor lighting, “and exceed them,” he said.

Land Use Department planner John Holste said that as of Monday morning the county had received letters from more than 20 Hygiene-area residents and property owners, with almost all opposing putting a marijuana growing facility in their midst.

Such a facility “is not a proper or acceptable business for this area,” Debbie Schlepp, the owner of the Crane Hollow Cafe at the southeast corner of Hygiene Road and North 75th Street, said in one of those emails.

Schlepp wrote county officials in June of her concerns about the odors given off by such facilities and said the proposed building itself would be “an eye sore, turning our cherished community into an industrialized feel, taking away much of the beauty of this historical community.

“The smell of cinnamon rolls, bacon, fresh-cut hay and fresh air are the odors that are cherished in this area, not the noxious skunk-like smell of marijuana,” she wrote.

Another Hygiene business owner, who declined to give her name on Monday, said she’s “ambivalent” about the prospect of having a growing facility down the road from her store.

“Hygiene may not be the best choice of locations” for the facility, she said, “but if it’s legal and they have the right permits, we’re OK with that.”

Basil Irwin, a Rozena Drive resident whose home is about half a mile from the proposed facility, which he said would amount to “a marijuana factory,” said Monday that “I don’t think that the application as it stands and the staff recommendations support a legally defensible approval.”

Moreover, Irwin said, Boulder County “doesn’t have enough ongoing monitoring” to ensure, if the facility does get Land Use approval and state and county licenses, to guarantee that the operators will be “doing what was approved, inside that building” once cultivation and marijuana product manufacturing gets underway. He said he plans to speak at Tuesday’s hearing.

At least one rural Boulder County resident has written county officials in favor of the proposal.

“I voted to legalize marijuana and use a marijuana salve to relieve the arthritic pain in my hand and arm. I also take a small amount of edible to help me sleep,” wrote Diane Wood, who lives on St. Vrain Road southwest of Hygiene.

The growing operation drew fire from the St. Vrain Valley School District in a June 8 letter from Brian Larner, the district’s assistant superintendent of operations.

The school district “opposes the placement of this type of facility in close proximity of an elementary school tasked with providing opportunities and bright futures for children,” Larner wrote.

“Our opposition is based on the health, welfare and safety of our children. With no safeguards in place to prohibit grow operation visitors and employees from consuming marijuana outdoors on or near the property, coupled with the weak guidelines that control grow operations in general and enforced by recent problems in Denver with odors from grow facilities, we believe this use is not compatible with the existing school and will restrict the use of our school grounds and fields that is within eyesight of the proposed facility,” Larner said.

Boulder County’s Holste, however, noted in a memo to the commissioners that unlike retail marijuana sales shops, whose property lines can can be no closer than 1,000 feet from a school, a child care facility or an alcohol or drug treatment facility, the county’s Land Use Code sets no such minimum-distance requirements for indoor marijuana cultivation or marijuana-infused manufacturing facilities.

BioMassSolutions’ Henningsen said his son is a student at Hygiene Elementary, and he disagreed with foes’ warnings that the growing facility’s presence would have negative impacts on the school and its students.

Despite the numbers of emails and letters the county has received opposing the project, Henningsen contended that “for the most part, people are supportive” of his company’s proposal.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Boulder County To Consider Proposed Hygiene Marijuana Growing Facility
Author: John Fryar
Contact: 303-466-3636
Photo Credit: Lewis Geyer
Website: Daily Camera