Richard and Linda Jensen are selling their commercial property, once used as a facility for processing tomatoes, to Jerame Rief, who intends to change the property to processing hemp and hemp oil, adding greenhouses and hoop houses for indoor nursery to start plants to be transplanted outdoors during the spring and summer seasons.

Richard and Linda Jensen are selling their commercial property, once used as a facility for processing tomatoes, to Jerame Rief, who intends to change the property to processing hemp and hemp oil, adding greenhouses and hoop houses for indoor nursery to start plants to be transplanted outdoors during the spring and summer seasons.

The objections of neighbors, mainly Susan Morris, Cynthia Sumpter and Kathy Hale, were as follows: 1. Hemp is not legal under federal law (it is legal under Colorado law); 2. Lights from the greenhouse would disturb and be a nuisance to the neighborhood; 3. Odor from the plants and noises from the machinery would be disturbing; 4. Increased traffic on Road LL.5 would be unsafe, 5. Use of water would threaten their wells.

Most of the arguments against hemp were directed toward marijuana. Commissioner Kevin Karney pointed out hemp cannot be grown close to marijuana because cross pollination takes away the THC for which marijuana is valued.
He also said hemp is not illegal in Colorado.

Jerame Reif assured the objectors and the commissioners that grow lights would only be employed between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. to supplement daylight during the winter months. Odor from the plants would only occur if the plants bloom, and this would occur only in the seed plants. No chemicals or pesticides are used on the hemp plants, because the oil is used for medicines which are intended for human use. The oil will go to a project originating at Ohio State University.

Commissioner Jim Baldwin said drip irrigation is not wasteful. He explained that consumptive use means the operation will only take what the plants actually need. The company must replace the water to the river through augmentation procedures outlined in Rule 10 under the State Engineer. This should mean no harm to wells.

County Road LL.5 is narrow, but the commissioners asked Richard Jensen how many employees formerly worked at the tomato operation and drove their cars to work. Jensen replied there were a minimum of 60 employees during the season. It was suggested part of the property not needed for greenhouses could be used for parking, but no requirement was put into the agreement.

Commissioner Kevin Karney reminded the objectors the area is already zoned industrial and the applicants do not need to come before the commissioners to change the use from one agricultural product (tomatoes) to another (hemp). The only question is the greenhouses. It was agreed that procedures already in place will guarantee a Use by Review annually, assuring performance standards would be enforced. Commissioner Keith Goodwin formed the motion, assuring enforcement of standards already in place and Use by Review annually. The extraction device would have to be engineered for safety, the lights used 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., the weeds controlled. Rules of the Fowler Fire District will have to be followed. Additional greenhouses requested will be ruled upon at the time of the annual Use by Review. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Jim Baldwin and passed unanimously.

Other matters considered were passed easily. Annual Review of a Special Use Permit for towing and storage for wrecked vehicles for insurance purposes at 31548 State Highway 50 was extended for another year for Robert J. Smith; he has made progress in building a fence to obscure the operation from the highway and keeping the property clean. Special Use Permits for Robert B. Oborne allowing continuation of the archery range and development of a retail store for archery equipment were approved, there being nothing but compliments for his operation from his neighbors. He is in the process of installing the electricity for a new restroom in the retail store.

Valco was approved to split off 12.01 acres in an Agriculture Zoned District and then merge 7.59 acres in a Commercial Highway Zoned District for a combined tract of 19.60 acres. The properties are commonly addressed as State Highway 50 and County Road 21.5, Rocky Ford.

Temporary housing for agricultural workers in a trailer with water and sewer connections was approved for Diamond A Products, Inc. at 233479 County Road Z. Additional greenhouses for research and development operations in an industrial Zoned District were approved for Hollar and Company at 18823 Highway 50, Rocky Ford. The greenhouses are for development of vine crops. They were approved for five additional greenhouse groupings in a three year period, subject to annual reviews.