On Hold

Jason Cranford will need to wait until Aug. 31 to learn if his marijuana licenses to operate a store, cultivation and manufacture infused products in the former Twin Spruce Cafe in Grant are approved. The public hearing was held Aug. 17 by the county commissioners. (Photo by Lynda James/The Flume)

Without any deliberation as posted on the agenda, the Park County commissioners approved rezoning 28 acres of residential zoned land to mining for High Speed Aggregate Aug. 17. (See The Flume front page article Aug. 4)

In doing so, the county commissioners ignored the recommendations of the county planning department and the planning commission. Both recommended not rezoning the 28 acres.

County Attorney Lee Phillips read the 11 conditions attached to the resolution before the unanimous vote.

“People need to read the conditions. They are extremely stringent and they (miners) are trying to listen to the residents,” Commissioner Mike Brazell said.

Commissioner Dick Elsner said it was not an easy decision.

Commissioner Mark Dowaliby said mining and residential are compatible.

The 11 conditions are:

1. Notify the county 48 hours before heavy equipment is transported over county roads.

2. Current driveways need to be registered and new permits pulled for any new driveways.

3. No mining activity within 100 feet of Platte Drive and 50 feet of the west and east property boundaries.

4. No mining activity between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. or on Sundays and federal holidays.

5. To reduce noise, sand must be in truck beds before loading.

6. Written notice to adjacent property owners 10 days before mine startup in spring and shutdown in the fall.

7. Report mining and reclamation status to the county upon completing mining, initial reclamation and successful reclamation of each phase.

8. Comply with state and local noise regulations.

9. Applicant may provide aggregate to Park County and adjacent property owners.

10. Provide sanitation facilities during mining operations.

11. Failure to comply with representations made at the hearing or any conditions will be a violation of the Land Use Regulations.

At least 20 or more residents at the Aug. 17 commissioner meeting silently filed out of the room after one was told no comment would be taken until the end of the meeting.

During public comments at the end of the meeting, John (Skip) Kunst, Sr. asked when and how the commissioners made their decision and developed the conditions.

Phillips answered during two commissioner work sessions and one executive session. Deliberations were not posted on any work session agenda, only on the Aug 17 agenda.

Phillips said most of the conditions were offered by High Speed and county staff recommended the rest.

Kunst asked if the conditions were finalized in executive session.

Phillips said he would not disclose what took place in any executive session.

Kunst asked if an operating agreement, additional reclamation requirements above state requirements or a performance bond were considered.

Phillips said no, all would be illegal.

“What did the county get for the rezoning?” Kunst asked.

“We got the conditions and they won’t mine on Sunday,” Elsner replied.

Brazell said that if the property wasn’t rezoned, High Speed would not be required to reclaim the historic mine tailings.

Kunst said he didn’t care about the historic tailings. He cared about the company mining new land, leaving and not reclaiming their own mine tailings.

Dowaliby said High Speed would have to reclaim because the state permit would limit the amount of overburden stored at any time.

“The county’s business plan should include more than mining and marijuana,” Kunst said.

The Mined Land Reclamation Board public hearing for High Speed’s 112 hard rock mining permit was scheduled for Aug. 23 in Denver beginning at 9 a.m.

Marijuana hearing

The commissioners postponed approving or denying four marijuana licenses for South Park Farma, LLC owned by Jason Cranford.

If approved, the former Twin Spruce Cafe in Grant will become a retail marijuana store, medical marijuana center, manufacture medical marijuana infused products and cultivate medical marijuana.

Cranford also owns a cultivation license for property south of Fairplay where retail marijuana is grown.

The property is zoned commercial and has an exempt commercial well for drinking, kitchen and sanitary use only. If used for marijuana operations, augmentation water will be required.

The basement was previously rented as several apartments. It will become the cultivation area, if approved.

Cranford said that stretch of U.S. Highway 285 intersects with the Guanella Pass Road and is busy. Some days over 6,000 vehicles pass the proposed license location, according to Colorado Department of Transportation.

The county canvassed 53 residents within one and one half miles of the location. Of that, 19 were opposed and seven supported the licenses.

At the hearing, five spoke in support. None lived in the designated neighborhood. They supported medical marijuana, especially for pain relief and the taxes that will be generated.

Cranford said his cultivation facility has paid over $90,500 in excise taxes to Park County in the three years it has been licensed.

Scott Dugan, owner of the Tumbling River Ranch, opposed the licenses. He submitted letters from two other residents who opposed the licenses.

Dugan said he was glad the area around the building had been cleaned up and other properties in Grant needed to be cleaned up as well.

Dugan said a marijuana store at that location would hurt his family oriented business and hurt property values in the area.

“It’s not the values we want promoted in our county,” Dugan said.

Dowaliby said Dugan has a liquor license and asked how he felt about the accidents and deaths that result from drinking alcohol.

“It’s a bad practice to drink and drive,” Dugan said. His liquor license is to serve guests at the ranch, not the general public.

He said he didn’t promote the use of alcohol or drugs.

Scott Dodge of Fairplay also opposed the licenses, saying he’d rather see a restaurant again at that location.

Dodge said the county needed to define areas where marijuana businesses would be appropriate, instead of approving them willy nilly across the county adjacent to residential areas.

Lease purchase

A site lease was signed with Indian Mountain Metro District for $210,000.

The agreement is a little unusual because it is the result of IMMD proposing a loan from the Land and Water Trust Fund to purchase up to 11 acre feet of augmentation water.

Phillips said the county would need collateral from IMMD for a loan and suggested a lease purchase to avoid Taxpayer Bill of Rights issues.

The collateral is the Indian Mountain Park Lodge, one acre around the building, and a driveway access easement.

The purpose is to buy water augmentation for those in the subdivision who want an alternative to paying for augmentation from Bar Star Water Company.

Bar Star owns the water augmentation plan for Indian Mountain and Elkhorn subdivisions.

IMMD and Bar Star have been in a legal battle over pricing of the augmentation water by Bar Star.

The Court of Appeals determined that Bar Star could charge what the market would bear.

So IMMD looked to Headwaters of the South Platte for an alternative source at a cheaper price.

At the Land and Water Trust Fund meeting in May, Glenn Haas, IMMD secretary, said the request was due to a cash flow problem until the loan for the new community building is paid off in 2020.

At the commissioners meeting, Haas said 205 residents had signed up to get augmentation from HASP. All the wells will need metered and monthly water usage reported to HASP.

Adam Davenport, attorney for Bar Star, spoke as a citizen not as an attorney representing Bar Star.

He said the county is using taxpayer dollars to purchase augmentation water for wells that are already being augmented by Bar Star.

He said the well owners will need to remove their wells from the original augmentation plan.

Davenport said as the state grows, we need to squeeze water to serve more people and “IMMD is flying in the face of water conservation.”

County Augmentation Plan

The commissioners approved the third amendment to the county’s application for water rights and augmentation plan. The original application was filed in 2008.

The amendment added the 5.435 acre feet of Deer Creek water recently purchased from Lone Rock H2O.

The amendment changes the water rights use to dust suppression, road construction, road maintenance, municipal use, augmentation and exchange purposes.

The amendment also added Spinney Mountain Reservoir owned by Aurora and Montgomery Reservoir owned by Colorado Springs Utilities as places of storage for Park County water.

Montgomery Reservoir storage is subject to obtaining an agreement with C. S. Utilities.

The county has an agreement with Aurora to store in Spinney.

Special use permit

Denver Water received a special use permit to construct a 50-feet tall lattice telecommunications tower.

Matt Hake of Michael Baker International, Inc. represented Denver Water and said the tower will provide cell and internet services to Denver’s headquarters office and two residences at Antero reservoir.

Hake said the new tower will have line of sight to Denver Water’s tower on Badger Mountain providing better communications.

Conditions on the special use permit are:

1. Provide space on the tower for Park County emergency services equipment.

2. Test and insure no interference with communications operated by Park County and other emergency services agencies.

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