By Kevin Duggan | Coloradoan.com
LARIMER, CO — The Larimer County commissioners on Monday gave a green light to one medical marijuana businesses just outside Fort Collins city limits but a red light to another.
The commissioners unanimously approved the land-use application of Choice Organics Inc., 813 Smithfield Drive, clearing the way for it to become the first legal marijuana operation in an unincorporated area of the county.
While saying they had concerns about the sheriff’s department’s ability to provide police service to the industrial area where the business would locate, the commissioners said Choice Organics met the requirements set in the county’s land-use code, including compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood.
No one spoke against Choice Organics, which would be a dispensary and grow operation in a warehouse southwest of the interchange of Mulberry Street and Interstate 25.
Seth Gustin, one of the owners of the business, told the commissioners the operation would fit in with the mix of industrial and retail businesses in the area.
“There’s no reason to think our proposal would have any substantial or adverse impact on the neighborhood,” he said.
In unanimously supporting the proposal, the commissioners said they were impressed with the presentation made by the business and the efforts of its owners to meet the county’s rules and work with neighbors.
“If we were looking for a model to allow this, this would probably be it,” Commissioner Lew Gaiter said.
The commissioners were less impressed with a proposal from Northern Colorado Medical Growers to operate a dispensary and grow operation at 312 N. Link Lane. The business’ application was unanimously denied.
Two local business owners spoke against the proposed marijuana operation, saying it would not be appropriate for the area and could lead to increased crime and lower property values.
Commissioner Steve John-son said he wasn’t convinced the impacts of the marijuana business to the area would be that severe, but he could not discount the comments of adjacent property owners.
Compatibility is the county’s major concern with land-use issues, he said.
“Those properties are the biggest assets those folks have,” he said. “Our responsibility is to protect those assets.”
The commissioners have banned medical marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas but allowed businesses that were already going through the county’s land-use review process to continue the process.
Both businesses had been recommended for approval by the county planning commission, which found they met the criteria for medical marijuana businesses in the land-use code.
Two more marijuana businesses are scheduled to be considered by the planning commission Wednesday, county planner Michael Whitley said.
Two other proposals are pending but have not been scheduled for hearings, including Nature’s Medicine outside of Loveland, which is operating illegally but was allowed to remain open as it went through the review process.
Two other businesses have withdrawn their applications, Whitley said.