Pam Boyd
pboyd@eaglevalleyenterprise.com

Eagle preps for retail marijuana

If Eagle voters approve retail marijuana, the town now has regulations to govern such operations.

On Nov. 5, the retail marijuana question will be decided. If voters approve, the regulations will go into effect Nov. 6.

Eagle has been on a long, painstaking and often heated marijuana journey that dates back more than five years — to when the community debated whether or not to allow medical marijuana dispensaries. The latest debate has come in the aftermath of Colorado voters’ decision last November to legalize possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.

Eagle’s sole medical marijuana dispensary, Sweet Leaf Pioneer, plans to convert to a dual license under the state’s new model. If the voters approve retail marijuana, the business will add that use to its existing medical marijuana operation.

In anticipation of the November vote, on Tuesday the Eagle Town Board voted on the municipal retail marijuana rules. Those regulations look a lot like the existing medical marijuana rules.

Retail marijuana operations will be confined to the same zone district — commercial general and industrial zones located east of Nogul Road and operators will have to obtain a special use permit. However the town board did opt to change the sign provisions that were previously instituted.

When medical marijuana operations were approved, the town stipulated that business signs could not be larger than five square feet. In its review of the retail rules, the Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission recommended that the general standard of 30 square feet, as allowed for commercial general and industrial uses.

“I don’t see any reason why they can’t follow the standard provisions for the zone district,” said town board member Anne McKibbin. “If we are going to have it, we are going to have it and not hide it.”

Other town board members supported that stance, but noted they would like to have some regulatory power over a retail marijuana operation’s signs if the business fronted Interstate 70, for example. Members opted to take the sign restriction language out of the rules so that it could become part of the special use permit process.

No monopoly

McKibbin also questioned the provision in the retail marijuana rules that limit operations in town to one per 10,000 residents. Because Eagle’s current populations stands around 6,700, that meant Sweet Leaf would have a monopoly. She suggested one operation per 5,000 residents. With that regulation, a second retail operation could currently apply for a license, which prompted a discussion about how the town will consider future operations if more than one applicant steps forward. The town board opted for a simple first-in-line, first-in-right standard.

At the suggestion of board member Joe Knabel, the board also set up a review of the retail marijuana ordinance. That review is slated to happen in two years.

Debate

Both Knabel and town board member Scot Webster questioned the timing of the retail marijuana ordinance.

“I believe this process was mishandled,” said Webster. “I believe that this process of voting on this ordinance before the (Nov. 5) election is totally inappropriate.”

Town board member Scott Turnipseed responded that by setting the rules now, the town is letting the voters know how retail marijuana will be regulated.

In the final vote, Eagle Mayor Yuri Kostick, McKibbin, Turnipseed and Mikel Kerst voted in favor of the retail marijuana regulations and members Webster, Knabel and Brandi Resa voted against them.

In a parallel discussion, the town board also set rules for cultivation of marijuana. The basic tenant of that ordinance is a six-plant per person limit. The cultivation regulations passed unanimously.

“I believe this process was mishandled,” said Webster. “I believe that this process of voting on this ordinance before the (Nov. 5) election is totally inappropriate.”
Scot Webster
Eagle Town Board member


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The VailDaily Updated Oct 23, 2013 10:48AM Published Oct 23, 2013 10:48AM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.