A Boulder County Commissioners panel voted yesterday to review the permit issued for a large marijuana grow operation and hold a public hearing on the plan. The decision came after neighboring farmers, including the owners of Cure Organic Farms, and other community members loudly voiced their opposition.
Pantera Properties LLC had applied for and received a permit to build four, 4,000-plus square-foot marijuana greenhouses and a 5,040 square-foot plant warehouse on 75th Street and Valmont Road in Boulder, but there is a 14-day period in which the permit can be called up a review -- and that's exactly what the Boulder County Commissioners did, by a vote of 3-0.
The date for the public hearing has not yet been decided.
At yesterday's meeting, John Hokte, a city planner for Boulder, said his office had received about 450 responses to the approval of the building permit, "with the vast majority written in opposition."
"Looking at the sheer volume raises my desire for more scrutiny," Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones said. "We need to give some airing to the obvious citizen interest in this."
The commissioners decided to take another look at the permit after neighboring farmers expressed their concerns about the impact that the marijuana-growing operation could have on their businesses. Paul Cure, of the nearby Cure Organics Farms, is worried that the chemicals used in the greenhouses would damage the land. "This is not about pot," he'd told Westword before the hearing. "Our concerns are very multi-dimensional. First and foremost, the air and water quality would be seriously jeopardized. This is a 21,000 square-foot footprint that our whole neighborhood is affected by."
But Bob Perletz, a planner for Pantera Properties, disagrees with Cure's claims. "If you take a look at the facility, you'd see that's not the case," Perletz explained at the hearing. "The water-quality issue has to do with hydroponics. That's not the system we're using. We're using a light deprivation system." That system is an organic process used for many forms of vegetation and doesn't affect soil, he adds.
Still, even though Perletz says Pantera had followed all city rules and regulations, he wasn't surprised by the commissioners' ruling. "The Cures have a strong Internet following and a lot of supporters," he notes.
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Cure says he has nothing against growing marijuana or Pantera Properties and hopes to find a way to please both sides. "If we can find another place for them, this would be a win-win for everyone," Cure says. "This isn't an attack on any particular industry, but it's great the city wanted to pause and look at this more."