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Farmer secures permit for marijuana greenhouse

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Lisa Dunlap Photo Carl Day of Cielo Vista Farms LLC and Day Land and Minerals LLC talks during a Tuesday meeting of the Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Zoning Commission at the Chaves County Administrative Center.

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A Roswell farmer has made the first move since Chaves County officials and the Extraterritorial Zoning (ETZ) Authority adopted new cannabis regulations to set up a recreational and medical marijuana growing operation.

The Roswell-Chaves County ETZ Commission approved a 10-year special use permit during its meeting Tuesday night to allow the growing, harvesting, testing, processing and shipping of marijuana on a 7-acre tract inside a 180-acre farm near U.S. Highway 285, which is also Southeast Main Street. The business site address is given as 5509 S.E. Main St. Selling marijuana or creating consumable products from it would not be allowed on the premises.

“It is good area in that it is far away from anything and they are placing (the business) in the middle of the farm. The only real neighbors are themselves,” said Louis Jaramillo, Chaves County Planning and Zoning director, after the meeting.

His report and comments to the commission also indicated that the property is not near any child care or adult care facilities.

The vote for the permit was 5-1, with Commissioner Mona Kirk the sole dissenter. She said later that she is a conservative who opposes projects that will produce recreational marijuana as federal law still prohibits it. Commissioner Rita Kane-Doerhoefer had left the meeting before the vote.

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The project did not result in letters or comments for or against the permit.

Roswell native and local farmer Carl Day said that he is a managing partner of Day Land and Minerals LLC, a family operation that has owned the farm since 1951. He and his wife, Lynda Anaya Day, have started Cielo Vista Farms LLC to start the marijuana growing project.

“I have a degree in agronomy, crops and soils. I have farmed here in the Roswell area for all of my career,” he said. “I have grown everything that is normally thought of and is commonly grown.”

He said that in the past he had grown chile, sunflower and safflower. Now he grows alfalfa and corn and wheat for silage.

“I have not grown cannabis, but the New Mexico Legislature has chosen to legalize it and it is also a product that seems to be in demand,” he said.

He said Cielo Vista will make a sizeable investment in erecting a greenhouse and perhaps a small office for phase one, with expanded growing and office spaces in phase two. He said he hopes to receive a license from the state to produce 1,000 to 3,000 mature plants a year, which would be a Level 2 license. He said state rules require that at least 25% of production be used for medical purposes.

He also said that the property will have 24-hour camera surveillance, secured 7- to 8-feet chain link fencing and the required lighting.

As required by ETZ ordinance, the project also will have adequate water rights. He said the farm has 130 acre-feet of annual water use associated with the property, which are senior rights that date back to 1936. The farm’s irrigation well will be used to fill a storage system that will supply the greenhouse, he said, with the greenhouse operations expected to require only about 1 acre-feet of water each year.

Day also said that, if the cannabis production is not successful, he could convert the greenhouse operation to growing flowers or some other income-producing crop.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.