Enough signatures collected for Hayden marijuana vote
September 16, 2015
Steamboat Springs — Hayden residents will likely be able to vote on a contentious marijuana issue that has divided the town.
On Monday, Hayden Town Clerk Sharon Johnson declared enough people had signed a petition to put Ordinance 666 to a vote. The ordinance was approved by the town council Aug. 6 in a 6-1 vote. The ordinance allows for the regulated, commercial growing of marijuana.
To get the issue on the ballot, 105 verified signatures needed to be collected. Of the 163 people who signed the petition, 109 were deemed valid.
Resident Dave Hayden led the petition drive. The two other members of the petitioners’ committee were Hayden School District board president Brian Hoza and Tina Frentress.
Hayden is the son of Hayden Town Council member Bill Hayden, who voted in favor of Ordinance 666. The family runs the Hayden Mercantile grocery store.
Dave Hayden said that, at the grocery store, he has heard from many people who were upset about the ordinance. Some even said they would no longer shop at the store because his father had voted in favor of it. Hayden added there were also people who said they would not shop there because he was leading the petition drive.
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But business was not his motivation for collecting signatures.
“I decided it should be a decision the town makes instead of town council,” Hayden said. “If the town votes for it, there is no one to blame except the town.”
Hayden said he is friends with Rodney McGowen, who has proposed opening a grow operation in the in the Valley View Business Park.
Hayden said he hated the way the ordinance has become a divisive issue in town and has led to finger pointing.
“I figure, let’s put it up for a vote,” he said.
Hayden said it took a couple weeks for the three members of the petition committee to collect 163 signatures.
Advocates of Ordinance 666 have said allowing grow operations would bolster the town’s economy.
On Sept. 3, the Hayden Town Council voted to put a measure on the November ballot that would allow wholesale sales of the marijuana to be taxed between 7.5 percent and 15 percent.
At a tax rate of five percent, Town Manager David Torgler has estimated grow operations will generate $143,500 in revenue for the town.
Torgler said Wednesday the intent of the current council is to have a tax rate of 7.5 percent, and future councils could raise the tax up to 15 percent.
During Thursday’s town council meeting, members are expected to formally acknowledge receipt of the petition. The town council will then have the option of repealing Ordinance 666 itself. If it declines to do so, the special election would likely occur in January.
The town council meeting begins at 6 p.m. with a discussion of regional funding issues impacting parks, open spaces, trails and recreation. Staff members will then deliver their reports, and the regular meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Among the other items on the agenda is a discussion of pedestrian safety on Hospital Hill.