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Commissioners Adopt Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance

It took three readings and several amendments before the Fremont County Board of Commissioners settled on the language in a county ordinance that will seek to control indoor and outdoor home cultivation of marijuana.    When the ordinance was tabled a second time at the March 22nd meeting the commissioners were concerned that a limit of 99 plants was still too excessive.    District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell had referred to a 36 plant limit imposed in Pueblo County as a guide.   In the end the ordinance adopted in Fremont County places a limit of 36 marijuana plants cultivated outdoors for persons owning ten acres of property or less.    If someone is the owner of 10 acres or more they will be able to grow up to 99 plants.

Commissioner Bell said the board did its best to compromise in recognizing the desires of medical marijuana caregivers as well as neighbors who have to put up with marijuana cultivation.   Bell said the ordinance is not written in stone and if problems present themselves the commissioners can go back and amend it again.   The ordinance went into effect last Sunday, April 17th.   It also requires that medical marijuana caregivers be registered with the county through the Planning and Zoning Department.

It was the licensing of ambulances for agencies in western Fremont County that stirred controversy at the April 12th commissioners’ meeting.    The Deer Mountain Fire District proposed to the Board of Commissioners that they be licensed for Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance service and be designated as the agency to serve not only the Deer Mountain Fire District but also the Highway 50 corridor from Parkdale to the Chaffee County line.   Arkansas River Ambulance (ARA), previously known as Arkansas Valley Ambulance, has been embroiled in internal controversy amongst board members for the past two years and has been challenged in recent months to maintain service.   A Fremont County District Court ruling was believed to be the final death knell for ARA but board members who are now in charge told the commissioners that they have every intent of reviving the agency and sought a license for ALS services.

County Medical Director Dr. Paul Numsen acknowledged that he believed the animosity between ARA and Deer Mountain has gotten in the way of patient care.   He said he felt like he was constantly putting out fires the last 2 ½ years.   It was Numsen’s recommendation not to relicense Ark River Ambulance.   However, when he was asked if he would continue to serve as medical director for Ark River if the commissioners chose to relicense the agency, Numsen said he would agree to do so.

With the Deer Mountain Fire District arguing to be the sole licensee in order to respond to the Highway 50 corridor, Commission Chairman Ed Norden said it sounded like Deer Mountain was giving the Board of Commissioners an ultimatum that their plan wouldn’t work unless the Board anointed them as the only agency to cover the Highway 50 corridor.   Norden said, “I think this board is very uncomfortable with that ultimatum”.   District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell said she was uncomfortable being put into the middle of the fight between ambulance companies saying, “I really have no interest in being a pawn in what I consider a hostile takeover”.

The Board of Commissioners ultimately issued ambulance licenses to both Deer Mountain and Ark River urging them to sort out their differences and prioritize patient care as the primary goal.

In other business at the April 12th commissioners meeting the Board:

  • Presented the 2015 Fremont County Accountability Report as prepared by Commissioner Bell.   The detailed power point report can be reviewed by clicking on the link on Fremont County’s home web page;
  • Reappointed Michael Pullen to another three year term on the Fremont County Planning Commission;
  • Reappointed Tony Adamic to represent Fremont County for another two years on the Fremont G.I.S. Authority Board;
  • Approved a Special Events Liquor Permit for the Cañon City Rodeo Association for the May 6th and 7th Royal Gorge Rodeo;
  • Took no action on a temporary use permit for Singleton Lee who wanted to stage Super Bud Bowl III promoting marijuana businesses on the weekend of April 22nd and 23rd.   Lee withdrew his application telling the commissioners that the Desert Reef Hot Springs off of State Highway 120 east of Florence had withdrawn its offer to lease its property for the event.