Commissioners, attorney talk Basalt-area pot odors in private
March 24, 2016
Pitkin County commissioners met privately with their attorney Wednesday to discuss their potential legal standing in the neighborhood flap over cannabis smells emitting from a Basalt-area grow facility.
Attorney John Ely could not comment about the half-hour talk but said a work session will be held for the public to chime in on the odors that originate from the High Valley Farms indoor grow center, which supplies Silverpeak Apothecary's medical and recreational dispensaries in Aspen. The farm and the dispensaries share common ownership.
It's not just High Valley Farms that's responsible for the stench, said Mimi Trombatore, an employee of Gallegos Corp., which has offices in the Holland Hills Business Center.
The complex, across Highway 82 from High Valley Farms, is home to two licensed marijuana growers. They, too, have contributed to the stench, she told commissioners at their meeting, which preceded their private discussion with Ely.
Trombatore said she previously filed a complaint with the county about the odor in the building, but "there were not enough rules and regulations to help me out" at the time.
"We have dealt with a nonstop smell for that entire time," she said. "I have to admit that our landlord and owners of the grow have made an effort to make it at least tolerable. We're very much surprised that an agriculture-type situation is occurring in our building."
Trombatore said one grow operation owner, Gayle Golding, gave her a "thing you can buy at City Market" — a deodorizer — to temper the stench. It hasn't helped much, though, she said. Golding could not be reached for immediate comment.
But the odor from High Valley Farms trumps what Trombatore said hails from the business center.
"It's 100 times worse," she said, likening the two to "having a dumpster outside of our window compared to living next door to the landfill."
"Again, we would like them to go away or be controlled," she said.
Ely, speaking generally about marijuana odors, said there can be legal implications for the businesses that cultivate pot.
"What you don't have is a right to create a nuisance," he said. "You can't have a nuisance emanating from your property if those people are affected."
High Valley Farms' agricultural license is up for its annual renewal in September. Part of the agreement between the facility's owners and commissioners was that odors wouldn't be an issue.
But neighbors of High Valley Farms voiced their frustration with the smells at a commissioners' work session in March. At a work session Tuesday, commissioner George Newman pushed for addressing the issue well ahead of the September license-renewal date, leading to Wednesday's executive session.
Silverpeak CEO Jordan Lewis, in an email to The Aspen Times, said the problem will be fixed.
"We've been aware of and working on the odor issue nonstop for three months, and because it's a top priority for us, we will continue to work on it until we find a solution," Lewis said. "We have engaged the manufacturer of our current odor-suppression system and other engineers, consultants and scientists to help us. Like many of the things we are doing, this is the first time this technology has been applied to the cannabis industry, and there is a steep learning curve."
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