Hayden council to vote Thursday on pursuing ordinance further limiting future dispensary locations

The Hayden Town Council will vote Thursday on whether to pursue a more restrictive ordinance on where in town another marijuana dispensary could be opened in the future.

There is already a dispensary approved to open within Hayden. Should the council pursue it, this ordinance would restrict the location of where another shop could open in town.

Council member Bob Reese first brought the issue to the his fellow council members last month, and council scheduled a work session last Thursday to discuss the potential ordinance, which Reese says should restrict the ability for a new dispensary to open on the U.S. Highway 40 corridor within the city limits.

Thursday’s vote will be on whether to direct staff to start drafting a different ordinance restricting any further dispensaries in the corridor, which the council has referred to as Main Street, or to keep the ordinance as is.

While Reese’s main concern is how a new shop would affect the look of Hayden’s downtown, other council members are concerned about whether restricting dispensaries in the town could give off an unwelcome tone toward all businesses at a time when the economic future of the town is far from certain.

“By no means do I think the marijuana industry is going to be our silver bullet,” said Hayden Mayor Zach Wuestewald. “There is not going to be one industry that comes in here and replaces the coal mine or the power plant, and I don’t think this is it by any means, but is it part of the puzzle? How can it not be?”

Hayden already has restrictions on where a dispensary can open up in town that went in place in 2019, requiring dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet away from child and daycare centers, schools, drug and alcohol treatment facilities, public parks, libraries and other public recreational spaces. It would also need to be at least 150 feet away from major transportation channels like Yampa Valley Regional Airport and U.S. 40.

These restrictions leave just one spot along U.S. 40 through the heart of Hayden where a new dispensary could open up.

Arguing for a new ordinance, Reese said he does not like the look of shops as you drive through other places like Craig or Steamboat, saying he thinks shops there make it look terrible — specifically the signage.

Reese also said he feels Hayden is not big enough for another “pot shop,” but only wants the ordinance to restrict development in the main street area and not other places like near the Yampa Valley Regional Airport or near the industrial park on the west side of town.

“My point is, in our master plan we are trying to beautify downtown. Whether it is two pot stores or three pot stores, beautification wise, I think it sends a message that we are just a town here, come on in and grow your pot,” Reese said

Council member Ryan Banks said he disagreed, pointing out that the new dispensary going in has demolished and replaced an uninhabitable building along the corridor.

“I don’t understand how that is not a win for our community,” Banks said. “Whether it is a pot shop, whether it is a liquor store, whether it is a hair salon, they are building a brand new building, and I think that is wonderful.”

He also said he felt Hayden is likely to be able to only sustain one dispensary, pointing to the history of it only having one liquor store, and they should let the market decide if another one could be sustainable in town.

“My opinion is that we have no change with the ordinance and no moratorium because under our current ordinance I think it is restrictive enough,” Banks said.

Still, Reese worried that if they do not get ahead of it, a new dispensary will have enough money to sue the town to force their hand and allow them in.

“So we have an open end policy right now that another one can come in, and how do we say no to that without having somebody sue us? Because some of these pot shops, they have money,” Reese said, referring to the current ordinance that leaves one location for a new shop in the area he wants to restrict.

“Some of these places, they got millions, and they can take us to task without even thinking about it,” Reese added.

Only Reese has specifically supported changing the ordinance, and only Banks has specifically said he is against a change. Council will vote on whether to move forward with drafting a new ordinance at it’s next meeting Thursday.

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