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Pueblo County Commissioners to vote on expansion of buffer

Posted at 6:29 PM, Jan 08, 2020

PUEBLO — Pueblo County was among the first places in the nation to license retail marijuana in 2013. However, County Commissioners this week are looking to tighten restrictions on where businesses can grow their pot plants.

The regulation at hand is a text amendment to zoning restrictions that would expand the buffer distance between an outdoor marijuana grow and the nearest residential home to 1,000 feet. The current distance is 250 feet.

Homeowner Brad Lisac lives downwind from outdoor grow and said he knows from personal experience that it's too close for comfort.

"I don't think anybody would want a field of marijuana that close to their home," he said.

Lisac's family has lived on this land on the St. Charles Mesa for four generations. He said various property owners have come and gone growing marijuana in the greenhouses next door since 2011.

The property line is less than 500 feet from his home, which used to violate the county's zoning buffer for medical marijuana grows. Commissioners shortened the distance in 2013.

"I went up to the county and asked them why all of sudden they could grow there now and they said the rules have changed," Lisac explained. "And I asked how could happen without notice to me, it was just, the rules are changed."

He said the odor became unbearable a few summers ago when his neighbor started growing plants outside of the greenhouses. During growing season, he changes furnace filters multiple times per week and doesn't open the windows.

"When you see the sunset looking toward the west, you can see just the dust coming off that, you know when that breeze is coming from the west this way," he said.

George Gregory bought the property in 2015. He said he began growing marijuana plants both inside and outside of greenhouses in 2018. He has sympathy for the Lisac family, but told us that commercial marijuana plants don't produce pollen.

"If they did, they would be worthless," he said.

He explained that commercially grown cannabis plants are all female. Gregory thinks the regulatory change could harm other cannabis growers in the County.

"This issue will affect about 1,700,000 acres in Pueblo County," he said. "I think it's excessive and an overreach and not necessary."

The Pueblo County Land Use meeting begins at 9:00 a.m. Thursday in the commissioner's chambers at the Pueblo County Courthouse, 215 W. 10th Street.