Routt County Commissioners to host marijuana discussion
Board members to consider resolutions at meeting Tuesday
June 15, 2011
■ Resolution 1
A resolution of the Board of County Commissioners of Routt County, Colorado prohibiting the establishment or operation of new medical marijuana centers, medical marijuana optional premises cultivation operations, and medical marijuana-infused products manufacturers in the unincorporated areas of Routt County except as provided herein and establishing specific standards for license issuance to existing medical marijuana centers and medical marijuana option premises cultivation operations and reserving authority to extend, modify or remove the prohibitions and standards for license issuance set forth herein.
■ Resolution 2
A resolution extending a temporary moratorium on the issuance of any permits or licenses related to the establishment or operation of any new medical marijuana centers, medical marijuana optional premises cultivation operations and medical marijuana-infused products manufactures in the unincorporated areas of Routt County except as provided herein and establishing specific standards for license issuance to existing medical marijuana centers and medical marijuana optional premises cultivation operations and reserving authority to extend, modify or revoke the moratorium and standards for license issuance set forth herein.
Steamboat Springs — The operation of medical marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas of Routt County will be up for discussion Tuesday.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider resolutions during a public meeting at 5 p.m. in the Commissioners Hearing Room on the third floor of the downtown courthouse. One resolution would ban new medical marijuana dispensaries, grow operations and infused-product makers in the county. The other would extend an existing moratorium on the operation of the businesses until June 30, 2012.
There also will be an opportunity for members of the public to comment at the meeting.
"This is important enough for the community," County Manager Tom Sullivan said. "That's why we're having the meeting in the evening so we hope people can come to the courthouse and provide comment."
Although the resolutions would address the operation of new medical marijuana businesses in the county, they wouldn't affect Aloha's in Milner.
Commissioners approved a conditional land-use application in May for Aloha's. But they required owner Chris Ward to make 17 changes to his facility, which transformed it from a residential to a commercial building. The business opened July 4, 2010. The county later imposed a moratorium, prohibiting new businesses, which it has extended once.
Colorado voters approved the use of marijuana for certain medical conditions with a doctor's recommendation in 2000 by voting in favor of Amendment 20. It also was supported by a majority of Routt County voters.
In addition to Aloha's, three medical marijuana dispensaries have operated in Steamboat since 2009, and one operates in Oak Creek.
County Attorney John Merrill said because Aloha's has land-use approval to operate in Milner, he would recommend that the business be grandfathered. He said an outright ban of the business could result in litigation against the county.
"If the board decided to shut (Aloha's) down, we would defend it on the basis that it's illegal under federal law," Merrill said. "But as you know, it's allowed under state law."
Commissioners Doug Monger and Nancy Stahoviak said Tuesday that any discussion about Aloha's future likely would take place at a future meeting.
One thing that could come up Tuesday is whether commissioners would refer a ban of future medical marijuana businesses in the county to voters. County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said, unlike municipalities, there is no public initiative process in the county.
Stahoviak said commissioners could discuss whether to allow voters to decide. Monger agreed but said he didn't think it would be necessary.
"I think the preference for all of us, especially to outline future (medical marijuana) businesses in Routt County, the commissioners feel fine doing that themselves," he said. "And we'll probably move forward on (Tuesday) with a ban or moratorium."
Commissioners also could delay action or ask Merrill and Assistant County Attorney Erick Knaus to draft a different ordinance.
Steamboat resident Lisa Watts, who helped start a group to oppose medical marijuana businesses locally, said Tuesday would be a busy night. The Steamboat Springs City Council is scheduled to consider a second reading of its medical marijuana ordinance at 5 p.m. in Centennial Hall.
But Watts said she probably would speak at both meetings to reiterate her group's concern about the operation of medical marijuana businesses and their impact on the community.
"We just intend to be there to present our position, and we'll go forward from there," she said.
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com
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