Marijuana ordinance bound for council

Craig Planning and Zoning Commission approves proposal

The city's proposed medical marijuana ordinance survived a brief hiccup Monday night, and is on track to be approved before the city's 60-day emergency moratorium expires in early December.

The Craig Planning and Zoning Commission approved the draft ordinance on a 4-0 vote, though chairman Jim Meineke and commissioners Randy Kloos and Mike Tucci were absent.

Commission alternates Dennis Jones and Jarrod Ogden served as voting members.

Vice chairman Chris Nichols initially wanted to limit medical marijuana dispensaries to C-2 commercial zones, which are only found along highways through town, and not also in L-1 light industrial zones, which encompass a large portion of Craig's southern edge.

"Adding L-1 more than doubles the area for medical marijuana," Nichols said.

Commissioner Sid Arola, who supported allowing dispensaries in both classifications, noted that other restrictions in the ordinance would make most of the available zoning in Craig off-limits to dispensaries either way.

The proposed ordinance restricts dispensaries from being within 100 feet of a residence and 500 feet from all child care facilities, schools, halfway houses, correctional facilities and other dispensaries.

Commission members also noted none of the ordinance's restrictions are in their hands, and their vote did not reflect an approval or rejection for any of them.

Instead, their vote focused solely on what zoning districts could include dispensaries.

In the end, Nichols' objection to allowing medical marijuana in L-1 light industrial areas was not swayed by other restrictions, but from cautious advice by City Attorney Kenny Wohl.

City zoning codes allow C-2 businesses to open in L-1 districts. Wohl said denying that ability solely to marijuana dispensaries could be seen as discrimination and thrown out in court.

City officials expect the council to make its first review of the ordinance, which is based on one developed by Frisco city government, at its next meeting Oct. 26 at City Hall, 300 W. Fourth St.

The proposal addresses more than the location of dispensaries.

If approved, prospective business owners would have to pay a $1,500 application fee to the city to pay for administrative costs and expenses, and get written approval from the Craig Police Department and city Planning Department that other requirements are met.

The ordinance states anyone who owns 10 percent or more of the business must submit to a criminal background check, and anyone with a prior felony conviction will be denied police approval.

In addition, the ordinance requires owners to agree to two statements - one that he or she may be subject to federal prosecution, and another that the city accepts no legal liability for the business.

Other restrictions include limiting hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., requiring dispensaries to install a ventilation system that prevents the smell of marijuana from leaving the business, and specific security measures, such as cameras, alarms and outside lighting.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com.

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