By Tammy Gray
Just two months after the Navajo County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance that allows medical marijuana cultivation facilities in less populated areas, a company is looking to locate one just north of Snowflake along Highway 77.
Kompo Care is seeking a special use permit to construct a 6,000-square foot medical marijuana growing facility on approximately 130 acres. The plants grown at the site would be used to support the firm’s retail dispensary in Taylor. Under current county restrictions, a cultivation facility must be directly tied to a dispensary located within the county. The cultivation cannot take place to support other dispensaries throughout the state.
If approved, the facility would be located approximately three miles north Snowflake, just off of the east side of Highway 77. The adjacent land currently is the site of the dilapidated remains of a former pig farm. Plans call for a large steel building specially designed for cultivation to be constructed on the site as well as a separate modular building for security staff.
According to plans submitted to the county, the facility would have 24-hour security, including monitoring cameras and continuous on-site staff. The building will have no windows, and access to the facility will be limited exclusively to Kompo staff and representatives from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).
The request for the special use permit is currently set to go before the Navajo County Planning and Zoning Commission, which will then make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, which will be responsible for making the final decision.
County staff members have no objection to the issuance of the permit, but have suggested several requirements be put in place. In addition to following all state and local laws and regulations, Kompo Care must provide uninterrupted security for the site, and may not place any sort of signs or symbols on the building or property indicating that it is a marijuana cultivation site. In addition, staff recommends that a review hearing be held one year after issuance of the permit. If it is determined that any provisions of the special use permit have been violated, it may be revoked immediately at the review hearing. In addition, the permit is issued only to Kompo Care and may not be transferred with the land.
At a previous hearing on modifying the medical marijuana cultivation ordinance, county supervisors expressed concerns both about locating such a facility in a remote area where security and police observation could be difficult, and in a more densely populated area where it could be a temptation for would-be thieves. Supervisors also expressed concern about locating grow facilities near the reservation line. At that time, staff explained that the changes to the ordinance were being made to try to accommodate the needs of business owners and satisfy the concerns of residents.
“We’re trying to balance the need of allowing this to happen by state law with meeting the needs of surrounding property owners,” then Planning and Zoning Director Trent Larson said. “When we drafted the first ordinance, this was all new to us and to the state. We thought that it would be best to put it in areas of high visibility, but the problem is that the more densely populated areas are resistant. We had a lot of neighbors and community members in opposition when a grow facility was planned.”