Hayden open for pot-growing business | CraigDailyPress.com

Hayden open for pot-growing business

Matt Stensland

— In a 6-1 vote Thursday night, Hayden Town Council members approved allowing licensed, commercial marijuana growing operations.

Many council members said it was a difficult decision.

“It’s been a tough one for me on which way I want to go on it,” Councilman Festus Hagins said. “Marijuana is here. It doesn’t matter if we allow it to grow here or not.”

Council members saw allowing the grows as an economic opportunity for the town that could create jobs and bring families, as well as tax revenue, into the community.

“I’m in favor just because of the economics more than anything else,” Councilman Jim Folley said.

Hayden resident Rodney McGowen has proposed opening a grow operation in the Valley View Industrial Park in an underutilized building he owns. Others could follow in the industrial park, which is about 75 percent vacant.

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“It is a legal business,” Councilman Tim Redmond said. “I feel like he has the right to have that business. It’s better to have something to control than to let it be the wild, wild west.”

In order to acquire a commercial cultivation license, businesses would have to apply for a conditional use permit. Those permits require a public hearing, a recommendation from the planning commission and action by the town council.

Councilman Dallas Robinson cast the lone, resounding nay vote.

“You’re being misled by the proponents of this thing because it’s easy money,” Robinson said.

Robinson also said having grow operations in town would have an impact on the community’s children.

“Do something for these kids, please,” he said.

The meeting was very well-attended.

Nine people spoke in favor of the ordinance, and 17 were against it.

Eric Kishbaugh said he recently moved to Hayden, and the business would give him and his wife more options for jobs.

In response to the sometimes emotional debate over the ordinance, resident Linda Archuleta said people in the Yampa Valley are very passionate about the lives they live.

“Personally, I believe its morally wrong.” she said. “We love our Hayden, and we want it to stay the way it is.”

In addition to allowing regulated grow operations, the ordinance limits the number of plants that can be grown privately at any property to 12 plants.

“It gives our town and police department some sort of regulations to work with,” Councilwoman Lorraine Johnson said.

With the ordinance now passed, the town is considering how large an excise tax it should ask voters to approve this November. Based on a five-percent tax and what taxes have generated in similar communities, Town Manager David Torgler has estimated grow operations will generate $143,500 in revenue for the town.

The council, though, indicated it wants a higher tax and discussed a tax of between 7.5 percent and 15 percent.

The council will discuss that more during a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 3.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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