The Cortez planning and zoning board has recommended approval for a new marijuana grow operation proposed by local store The Herbal Alternative.
Property owners Billy and Kathy Sanchez submitted a site plan to the board during their monthly meeting on Tuesday that would allow them to add a 40-by-90-foot structure to the store’s existing greenhouse on U.S. Highway 491. The store, owned by Garrett Smith, also plans to add 10 parking spaces outside the addition, including two handicap-accessible ones, but the space will not be open to the public. The planning and zoning board also voiced support for the Bridge Emergency Shelter’s proposed new location and discussed a possible amendment to the land use code’s floodplain regulations, among other agenda items.
Associate planner Neva Connolly presented the plan for the marijuana grow, which she said would conform to state regulations for marijuana operations and would be built on land already zoned for retail use.
“I believe this building expansion will comply with our land use code,” she said.
City engineer Ken Torres, planning and building director Sam Proffer and Empire Electric Association system engineer Clint Rapier also wrote letters approving the site plan, although they added several conditions it must meet.
Board members Ken Brengle, Tim Butler and Rebecca Levy voted unanimously to recommend the site plan’s approval to city council, with Tim Kline and Danny Giannone being absent. Next, the plan will go before the Cortez City Council for approval. In December, the council decided not to allow a marijuana grow operation in the Industrial Park, which is near The Herbal Alternative, although that operation would have required a change in the city code.
The Sanchezes attended the meeting but did not comment except to thank the board for their approval.
City planner Tracie Hughes also asked the board to voice their opinion on the Bridge Emergency Shelter’s plan to construct a new location on 735 N. Park St. The shelter’s board of directors haven’t submitted a site plan for the property yet, but because it is in an area zoned by the county for the broad use of “public facility development,” executive director Laurie Knutsen wanted the board’s support for her plan to build the new facility there. All three board members said they were strongly in favor of the plan.
“I definitely see it as a ‘public facility,’” Brengle said. “I don’t foresee any issue with that.”
During their meeting, the board also appointed Levy to be the new planning and zoning representative on the historic preservation board, after Giannone resigned from that position in April. They discussed a possible amendment to floodplain regulations in the new land use code, voicing preliminary approval for a draft provision that would not allow new buildings to encroach into a 100-year floodplain or floodway. Hughes also submitted a draft “three mile plan” for the city for future consideration, although the board didn’t discuss it during that meeting.