Eagle approves retail marijuana operation
In a split vote, Tuesday night Eagle approved Rocky Mountain Pure’s proposal for a 28,000 square foot marijuana operation that would include retail sales, cultivation, an infused product kitchen, an extraction laboratory and a research and development facility.
“We have been talking a lot about what this means to the community,” said Eagle Mayor Yuri Kostick. He noted in three different elections, the majority of Eagle voters cast ballots in support of first medical marijuana and then retail marijuana operations in the community.
Kostick referenced a letter from local resident Cindy Ticer who urged the board to reject the proposal because of the “personal, social, medical and safety” issues surrounding marijuana use. By treating the application as a land use file and not discussing the impacts of retail marijuana sales in the community, Ticer stated the board was “sticking your head in the sand so you don’t have to confront an issue,”
“Not to allow this is sticking our heads in the sand,”said Kostick.
Last December Rocky Mountain Pure first proposed a retail marijuana operation in Eagle — a $5 million, 92,850 square foot facility touted as “the nation’s premier retail marijuana destination.” The company has since downsized its application to 28,000 square feet with several aspects of the original plan axed altogether. The Rocky Mountain Pure facility would be located on Chambers Avenue, in an area the town has zoned for retail marijuana operations.
The application was originally debated in May, but tabled until the June 10 meeting when Kostick and board member Luis Benitez said they wanted to tour the applicants operations in Denver and a retail marijuana operation in Glenwood Springs to get a better idea of what Eagle was considering.
“Essentially, it looked like any other industrial or retail use we have in Eagle,” said Kostick. In particular, he commented about the Rocky Mountain Pure operation in Denver. “From the outside, it looked like a spa.”
When given their chance to weigh in on the issue, some Eagle residents were less enthused about bringing retail marijuana to the community.
“If you live by the ocean, you are going to bring sand into your home. If you have a huge pot warehouse in our community, we are going to have it in our homes and in our schools,” said resident Erika Webster. “I don’t know if we want to be know as the retail marijuana warehouse in Colorado.”
Resident Shawn Colby voiced concern about marijuana edibles, especially because children may not be able to discern the difference between a regular candy and a weed-laced candy.
“We are talking about a retail license here, not a medical facility. A retail is where you go to get high,” he said.
Other testimony Tuesday night supported the Rocky Mountain Pure plan. Resident Jeff Kennedy, who manages the Green Dragon retail marijuana operation in Glenwood Springs, said “I am concerned about what comes into my town, too.”
“These are the most regulated businesses in the history of the state of Colorado,” said Kennedy. He praised Rocky Mountain Pure’s business model and operators and said Eagle is a good fit for their plan. “I am proud to live in Eagle as a community that has always had it eyes wide open.”
“My personal belief is this is an exciting industry,” said town board member Brandi Resa. But she also stated her belief that Eagle isn’t yet ready for a retail operation the size and scope of Rocky Mountain Pure.
“I don’t think if this is approved, people in Eagle will be excited about the decision,” said Resa. “This doesn’t feel like Eagle and it is pushing the boundaries.”
Likewise, Benitez complimented the plan and the Denver operations he toured. “But based on the size and the scope of what you are proposing, at this time I can’t support it.”
Along with Kostick, town board member Andy Jesson strongly supported the application.
“My personal opinion is we want to attract businesses that are on the edge and entrepreneurs who are willing to take a risk,” sad Jessen.
With members Kevin Brubeck and Doug Seabury stepping down from the discussion because of declared conflicts, town board member Anne McKibbin was the final member to weigh in. She noted the issue of whether or not to allow retail marijuana in town has been decided by the voters and they have said yes.
“That train has left the station and now it is the town board’s role to keep it on the tracks,” she said. In that vein she proposed a moratorium on the sale of edibles at the site until the state of Colorado develops regulations for such products. Rocky Mountain Pure principals Ethan Borg and Frank Quattrone said they would voluntarily comply with that request. They also supported a condition brought forward by Eagle Town Attorney Ed Sands prohibiting the use of compressed flammable gas in the extraction of marijuana oils, which has been responsible for several explosions in the Denver area.
“That should be banned statewide,” said Borg.
In a 3-2 vote, the board approved the application with a series of conditions attached.