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Huerfano County approves two more pot permits

WALSENBURG — Just weeks after imposing a moratorium on new conditional use permits for marijuana grow facilities in Huerfano County, the county commissioners approved two on Tuesday morning- one whose application was in before the moratorium, and the other for strictly private growing. Skyler Walker wants to begin growing more than the individual legal level of six plants, as he is the caregiver for a number of individuals who use pot medicinally. Additionally, the marijuana he grows has a very low THC content. It was noted he would have to haul water for his grow. There was some debate whether he should sign off on a liability waiver at a federal level, but it was decided he did not have to. The second conditional use permit request was from NuGro, which began the application process in December of 2014. Owner John Hix brought a team of architects and experts along with him to plead his case, as planning and zoning had recommended denial. A big sticking point on NuGro’s request is they have no water. Hix noted his company has become a

member of the Huerfano County Water Conservancy District, and would be entitled to augmentation. Commissioner Max Vezzani pointed out augmentation is used only when there is something to augment, and right now, NuGro is dry. Hix stated they have plans to haul water, and would be drilling a well very soon. At this point, Hix’s neighbors in the audience, who oppose the conditional use permit, stood up and stated their wells were salty and terrible and no longer use them, and haul water themselves. Hix noted two other grow operations in the immediate area, with similar setups had already been approved, and he wished to be treated the same. Vezzani reluctantly agreed to make a motion for approval, with the same restrictive conditions the other grows are subject to. The motion passed, and the CUP was granted. In other business, County Administrator John Galusha announced the county had been awarded a $60,000 grant from the Underfunded Courthouse Facility Commission, for the purpose of developing a master plan and provide engineering services for a potential new county courthouse. The timing for the grant is great, as the county has contractors poised to begin as soon as Monday. After accepting the grant, commissioners signed a letter of intent with an architectural firm agreeing to move forward on plans. Jesse Greis, the spokesman for the Sonic Bloom festival, reported to the commissioners on progress the organizers are making to meet their requirements on their temporary use permit. “The devil is in the details,” Greis told the commissioners as myriad roadblocks, small and large have cropped up as they work their checklist. One of the biggest points is the treating of County Road 650 with magnesium chloride to keep the dust down over the four days as thousands of cars go back and forth on it. Greis will work with Road and Bridge foreman Bill Brunelli on the timing of the mag chloride application. Finally, Galusha brought the commissioners’ attention to threatened legal action against the county by the 3rd Judicial District Attorney Frank Ruybalid. Ruybalid contends the county did not have his back during his latest legal woes with the Colorado Supreme Court, and he had to pay his attorney’s fees out of his own pocket. He is demanding they compensate him to the tune of $199,697. The commissioners agreed with the Las Animas commissioners they would not pay this unless forced to by the court. “We didn’t create this problem,” Vezzani muttered.