Photos courtesy of Kompo Care
Kompo Care officials say they applied for less space capacity than is needed to cultivate their medicinal plants when requesting approval to construct their current 6,000-square foot facility.
By Nolan Madden
A formal request by principals of Snowflake medical marijuana dispensary Kompo Care to expand their current 6,000-square foot offsite cultivation facility has been denied by county officials.
The company presented the expansion request just eight months after the officials granted divided approval for the grow facility’s initial construction on State Route 77 at the town’s northern border in July 2015.
Kompo Care currently has a state-licensed dispensary located in Taylor, and is one of four active medical marijuana dispensaries registered in Navajo County, including those in Holbrook, Show Low and Winslow.
In a public hearing last week, Kompo Care officials explained that the proposed expansion would have included a 10,000-square foot processing building and an 8,000 to 10,000-square foot greenhouse in order to continue producing products to support their facility in Taylor, such as the necessary equipment to process and refine the plant into oils, elixirs, and tinctures for use in edible and topical products.
In a February public hearing, the county’s planning & zoning commissioners voted 7-1 in favor of recommending the project’s approval to the Board of Supervisors, with no opposition received from the public.
According to the department, the commissioners “felt it would be remiss on their part to not allow Kompo Care to expand their business in an area where the use has been approved.
“There were limitations set on the outdoor growing
area, to 10,000 square feet, with additional fencing around the outdoor grow area, with at least a 25-foot buffer between the outdoor growing area, and the Arizona Department of Health Services-required 10-foot high fencing.”
Planning & zoning officials’ estimation was that, if the expansion was not approved, the dispensary would be limited to its current approved facility, “which does not have room for processing their product, or administrative office space to house their current records.”
During last week’s hearing, the supervisors asked for clarification of the facility uses between Kompo Care’s stated request for an expanded processing center as proposed to the Planning & Zoning Commission, versus the outdoor grow facility usage proposed to the Board of Supervisors in a more recent meeting.
In response, the company’s representative, Jeff Quinn, explained, “Regarding the 10,000-square foot grow facility, my question has always been, ‘Where did that number come from?,’ because in the narrative we needed three to five acres to produce about 30 pounds of concentrate, which then becomes three pounds, and that is to be made into medicine.
“In my heart, I always felt that that number of square feet had been transposed, because we’d had so many other numbers that were 10,000: we had the 10,000-square foot processing facility and the 10,000-square foot greenhouse. So maybe that just became the 10,000-square foot outdoor grow facility.”
Then-county Public Works Director Eric Oscarson confirmed to the board that in February 2015, Kompo Care officials, after receiving planning & zoning approval to build the 6,000-square foot structure, had returned to the department for permission to request additional space.
Oscarson said the commissioners advised the company principals to stick with their plans for the original space to avoid presenting separate and conflicting proposals to the Board of Supervisors and potentially starting the approval process from scratch.
After the board reconvened from executive session on the request, District II Supervisor Steve Williams shared his thoughts on the appeal.
“I have a concern that, eight or nine months after this issue was approved, it’s back before us, and that an additional more than 400 percent increase in square footage to grow is being asked.
“My understanding is that Kompo Care had the initial option to request additional square footage and they made the business decision at the time to go with the 6,000 square feet, which is fine.
“I have concerns about the health safety and general welfare of the area. I am not sure that Kompo Care expanding almost 500 percent more than what’s been approved is good for the area or for the residents there. The people who have medical marijuana cards there are currently having their needs met.
“I know that there are other communities, Winslow and Holbrook, that have approved larger medical marijuana grow facilities, and that is under their purview and their discretion.
“I haven’t seen anything of substance that has been presented to the board indicating that they need the extra space beyond what has already been approved,” Williams concluded, motioning to deny Kompo Care’s request.
District V Supervisor Dawnafe Whitesinger, who had exercised her deciding vote of approval in support of the grow facility’s construction during the board’s deadlocked vote in July, this time joined her fellow supervisors’ in unanimously opposing the bid, adding no further comment.