Steamboat, Hayden to discuss laxer rules for pot shops
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Marijuana is on the agenda for two city council meetings in Routt County on Tuesday, May 7, which could bring more retail pot shops to the area.
Steamboat Springs City Council is set to vote on two ordinances, the first of which would change land use regulations to allow dispensaries in more parts of town. The second proposes changes to how the city hands out marijuana licenses for shops and could allow for an unlimited number of licenses.
The first ordinance, as proposed, would allow marijuana stores to open under a limited use, rather than a conditional use. A limited-use system permits a dispensary to open as long as it obeys the zoning requirements, such as maintaining a buffer zone around schools and parks.
It also allows dispensaries to set up shop in commercial zones around town as well as near Steamboat Resort. Stores could open in the Old Town district, but the ordinance prohibits them along Lincoln Avenue.
Council members sought direction from the city’s Planning Commission on establishing buffer zones for dispensaries around schools and parks, as well as a clustering prohibition to keep pot shops a certain distance apart. The Planning Commission and City Council had differing stances on these matters, which will have to be smoothed out Tuesday.
The second ordinance, as written, proposes opening the marijuana license application process to an unlimited number of applicants but establishes a merit-based system to vet the number of recipients. Council members modeled the system after other towns in Colorado, like Longmont, which recently selected four dispensaries out of a pool of 13 applicants, according to city documents.
The application would require aspiring dispensary owners to submit a business plan, a detailed security plan, a community outreach plan and an odor management plan. It also lists nine additional criteria — such as the applicant’s experience operating a dispensary in Colorado and the shop’s impact on the surrounding neighborhood — city officials may use to approve or deny a license.
The ordinance would also decrease the vertical integration requirement, which says dispensaries need to grow a certain portion of the store’s cannabis themselves. As written, each store would need to produce half of its own products, a drop from the current requirement of 70%. It further specifies businesses must manufacture those products within Routt County.
These changes are not set in stone. As a form sent by the city attorney’s office points out, council members could nix the vertical integration requirement entirely.
“This is certainly an option for City Council, though it would likely lead to a large number of new applicants,” according to the form.
Just 20 miles down the highway, Hayden Town Council will discuss a request to open a retail marijuana store near the Yampa Valley Regional Airport. This comes after town officials placed a ban on the manufacturing cultivation and retail selling of marijuana in 2013.
If town council members decide not to move forward with the request, other Hayden officials want to bring the matter to the public, according to a document included in the meeting’s agenda packet.