11 de junio de 2017

AMADO Avizoran al Valle de Santa Rita convertido en emporio mariguanero

Elephant head expansion

Amado AZ.- With little resistance from the community, a farm in Amado received approval from the county to expand its existing medical marijuana cultivation site. Elephant Head Farm, which has been growing medical marijuana on its property since August 2015, will be allowed to add an additional 43,420 square feet of growing space to its operation after a 4-0 vote from the District 3 Board of Adjustment on Thursday granted the company’s request for a conditional use permit to carry out the plan. 

The 13-acre organic farm located about 1.5 miles north of the Interstate 19 Border Patrol checkpoint currently has two greenhouses and one acre of open-field marijuana cultivation. It plans to add one additional acre with the new permit, said County Community Development Director Jesse Drake, who said the operation complies with all state requirements for marijuana cultivation as well as county requirements for agricultural production.

 “We have to remember that, although it’s a different type of crop, it’s just a cultivation area. It’s just farming,” she told the board. She added that the site has no signage or outdoor lighting – in keeping with the county’s dark sky regulations – and that all processing and sales take place in Tucson. 

 The county received one letter in support of the project prior to the meeting, as well as one phone call from a homeowner north of the site expressing concern that the current metal walls that surround the marijuana fields might be interfering with her wireless internet service. But there were no expressions of opposition to the expansion.

Drake also concluded it was unlikely the 10-foot tall wall around the cultivation site, required by state law, would be the cause of the caller’s spotty internet service. Similarly, public response during the hearing on Thursday included one voice in favor and another with concerns, but no outright hostility to increased cultivation at the small farm. Tubac resident Mindy Maddock appealed to the board to support Elephant Head Farm, calling them a “good neighbor.” And Paul Plett, who said he owns property near the farm, said the choice to use open fields instead of greenhouses assuaged some of his concerns, but suggested that adding landscaping to disguise the metal walls around the fields could also make neighbors feel better about the operation. 

 Comparative cases 

 The mostly supportive reaction to the operation stands in contrast to the public response to the proposed purchase of 80 acres of land in Amado for a new marijuana growing greenhouse and laboratory for the Tucson-based dispensary Earth’s Healing.

During a Santa Cruz Valley Citizens Council meeting  in Tubac, audience members spoke out against the proposed operation, citing concerns over safety, water use, noise and light pollution, among others. Many of those concerns stem from an existing 12-acre medical marijuana growing operation owned by Nature’s AZ Medicines in Amado. Noting that he felt his operation has suffered “from being compared to another facility up the road,” Gordon Hamilton, manager at Elephant Head Farm, answered questions from the board during Thursday’s meeting that addressed many of the same concerns. 

 And while he said Plett’s suggestion to surround the metal walls with vegetation would be difficult to implement since the organic farm doesn’t use pesticides and new plants might attract harmful insects, he seemed to appease the board on questions about water use, soil improvement and a commitment to hiring locally. The farm currently employs about 17 people, 10 of whom are Santa Cruz County residents, 

Hamilton said, adding that the eight additional employees that will be needed for the expansion will also likely be locals. Ultimately, under Drake’s recommendation, board members Dean Davis, Donald Davidson, Jean Miller and Ron Campana unanimously supported Elephant Head Farm’s request for the additional growing space. “I myself have been unable to find anyone with negative comments regarding this operation,” Davis said. “Everyone I talk to speaks very positively about what you do out there.”