Oak Creek supports vote on medical marijuana dispensaries | SteamboatToday.com

Oak Creek supports vote on medical marijuana dispensaries

Town Board to look into election options, costs

Nicole Inglis

— All five Oak Creek Town Board members favor an election to determine the fate of commercial medical marijuana facilities in the town, but the time frame for the election is hazy.

After Oak Creek residents Ann and Walter Trout submitted an initiative petition and proposed ordinance that would ban medical marijuana dispensaries and commercial grow operations in the town, the board had the option to pass the proposed ordinance, call for a special election or force the Trouts to collect 35 signatures to prompt the election at a Town Board meeting Thursday night.

"I support an election," trustee Bernie Gagne said. "I think it's the best way to go."

However, a special election could cost the town about $4,000, town clerk Karen Halterman said.

Town Board members asked the Trouts to hold off on forcing a special election by submitting the completed petition to allow the town to hold the election alongside another one — either the general election in April 2012 or, as suggested by trustee Chuck Wisecup, the county election in November.

Mayor Nikki Knoebel said that while the board supports an election, it would be prudent to align it with a previously scheduled election.

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"We just would like to do it where it's not spending more money out of our pocket," she said.

Walter Trout said April was too far out.

Halterman was directed to look into the cost of the November option, and the Trouts said after the meeting that they would think about it.

The Trouts' proposal would ban dispensaries and grow operations, which would close down two businesses in town: Mary's Medical, a retail outfit owned by Jacob Wise; and Elevation Wellness Center, a grow operation owned by Skyler Hartman.

Hartman adamantly opposed the Trouts' efforts during the meeting.

"With your petition, you're promoting the black market because you're taking away the legal avenues," he said. "The people across the street are going to see the opportunity you just provided them."

During the past several weeks, the issue has garnered reaction from several entities in town. The Oak Creek Police Department, Routt County Sheriff, South Routt School District and Grand Futures Prevention Coalition have supported a ban in the town.

Trustee Dawn Smith reminded the board and the audience that the proposed ordinance does not affect the home-growers in residential areas that many residents are concerned about.

The board said they are discussing limiting those operations through the land-use code and cottage industry regulations.

Wise said he is in favor of putting the issue to a vote.

"I think it will be a landslide, pro-pot," he said.

In other action

The Oak Creek Town Board:

■ Approved, 5-0, a special-events permit for the Labor Day Committee for the annual town celebration

■ Approved, 5-0, the resignation of trustee Lawrence Jaconetta. The board will be accepting letters of interest for the position.

■ Approved, 5-0, the pre-loan financing planning and design assistance application for the drinking water revolving fund

■ Approved, 5-0, the pre-loan financing planning and design assistance application for the water pollution control fund

■ Tabled a discussion on the proposed electric billing ordinance because the town attorney has yet to review it

■ Rejected unanimously a request for an amendment to the Jacobs Construction contract for the waste water treatment plant project. Board members asked for further clarification.

■ Approved, 5-0, moving Chuck Wisecup to the position of administrative commissioner and Johrene Meyers-Story to the position of police commissioner

■ Approved, 5-0, a supplemental budget appropriation of $778,947, which mostly included costs for the waste water treatment plant that was budgeted for the previous year but wasn't paid out until the current fiscal year

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com

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