Residents: Enough pot shops in Eagle-Vail
By the numbers
4: Retail marijuana shops in Eagle-Vail.
2: Towns in Eagle County that have retail marijuana shops — Basalt and Eagle.
1: Available license from Eagle County.
1: Retail shop each in Eagle and Edwards.
EAGLE-VAIL — Enough is enough. That seems to be the feeling about retail marijuana sales in Eagle-Vail.
When the Eagle County commissioners established a licensing program for retail marijuana sales, they created eight licenses. Two of those licenses were reserved for the El Jebel area, with the remainder available for the Vail Valley. With regulations in place about the minimum distance a business could be from schools or homes, Edwards and Eagle-Vail are the only areas in the Eagle River portion of the county eligible for retail shops. Of the valley’s incorporated towns, only Eagle has a marijuana shop.
County officials originally believed the licenses available in this part of the county would end up split evenly between Edwards and Eagle-Vail. That isn’t what happened.
At the moment, there are four retail shops in Eagle-Vail and one in Edwards. The sixth license has not yet been issued, and the Eagle County commissioners can either issue the final license or not.
That remaining license drew a good-sized audience to a recent joint meeting of the Eagle-Vail Property Owners Association and the Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District — the latter of which performs some government functions. The Eagle-Vail groups invited county officials — the people responsible for issuing marijuana licenses — to the discussion. Planner Scot Hunn and Eagle County Commissioners Kathy Chandler-Henry and Jill Ryan attended the meeting, and came away with a clear message: There’s already plenty of marijuana-related business in Eagle-Vail.
Members of the two boards and residents were virtually unanimous in opposing any more shops in the area.
‘Like six Subways’
Resident Lynnette Miscio told the commissioners that while she voted in 2012 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, along with retail sales, she’s concerned about the number of children who ride school buses past those shops every day. And, given the expansion of growing facilities in the area — operations that require a separate license — Miscio wondered if odor from those operations could drift into the residential areas of the neighborhood.
Others worried about the number of businesses already operating.
“It would be like having six Subways (restaurants) in that area,” said Betsy Laughlin, president of the property owners association board. “Do you end up going to the one with the cute clerk?”
Metro district board member Tracy Walters acknowledged her opposition to retail sales, telling the commissioners that she believed Eagle-Vail was “strong-armed” into accepting zoning changes in the business district. Referring to the back-lit store windows of one shop that are visible from Interstate 70, Walters said that amounts to the only billboard in the county.
“I hate it,” she said.
Aggie Chastain, co-owner of Custom Pack, a shipping service next door to one of Eagle-Vail’s shops, was vocal in her opposition to more retail stores in the area, as well as the ones currently in business.
Chastain said another store in the area would put a disproportionate burden on the area, adding that she’s been insulted by customers when asking them to leave the parking spaces in front of her store that are reserved for customers.
“It’s not fun,” Chastain said, adding that she also worries about the business district’s reputation, since some locals have labeled that stretch of U.S. Highway 6 and 24 the “Green Mile.”
“That’s not something to be proud of,” Chastain said.
While Chastain opposes the marijuana business, other business owners said the new shops have been good neighbors so far.
Mike Charles, owner of Maximum Comfort Pool and Spa, is a member of the Eagle-Vail Business Association. He acknowledged that Eagle-Vail is getting a “bad rap” because of the shops. But he said he hasn’t seen any negative impacts.
Fellow business association member George Brodin, owner of the Leadfoot Linda’s auto repair shop, sent an email to the meeting echoing Charles’ remarks.
While both Charles and Brodin said the shops currently operating have been fine, both also opposed issuing the last license to another marijuana business for Eagle-Vail.
Grant Troeger, general manager of the Native Roots retail marijuana shop, said he also believes there are enough stores in the area.
In an interview after the meeting, Troeger said another store could make success harder for everyone in the area.
“We want everyone to succeed,” Troeger said. “Another shop makes it harder for everyone.”
After the public comment period, Chandler-Henry said she and the other commissioners are listening to the neighborhood.
“We thought the split (between Eagle-Vail and Edwards) would be three and three,” Chandler-Henry said. “We believe in the free market, but we also believe in community values. We want to find a balance between those.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com or @scottnmiller.