Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

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June 5, 2014
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Zoning regulations limit areas where recreational marijuana can be sold in El Jebel

El Jebel has two recreational marijuana business licenses available, but nobody seems to want them.

Eagle County commissioners approved the availability of eight recreational marijuana licenses within the county, effective Jan. 2. That started a process for the county to accept recreational applications until April 1.

It also was decided to reserve six of the eight recreational licenses for businesses in the Eagle Valley area of Eagle County, with the other two reserved for use in the Roaring Fork Valley area.

On May 15, Eagle County issued three recreational pot licenses in Eagle-Vail, a subdivision in unincorporated Eagle County located near Highway 6, with another recreation application pending in Edwards.

Currently, there have been no applications for the two Roaring Fork Valley recreational licenses. The El Jebel area is in area of Eagle County. Finding a properly zoned location to open a recreational marijuana business in the El Jebel area is proving to be a challenge.

A recreational marijuana business can only operate within a commercial-general-zoned area of Eagle County. By definition, commercial-general zones provide for a broad range of commercial operations and services required for the proper and convenient functioning of commercial centers serving the larger regions of the county.

There are additional location requirements that must be followed to open a medical or recreational marijuana business in Eagle County (see sidebar on A1).

In the El Jebel area, there’s only one location designated as commercial general. It’s located to the northwest of the Wendy’s restaurant on Highway 82 and is less than a quarter of a square mile (see map at right).

Scott Hunn is the senior planner with the Eagle County Community Development Department. Hunn sees the commercial-general-zoned area in El Jebel as possibly too restrictive for most prospective marijuana businesses.

“With our zoning and buffer requirements, that really narrows down the eligible land areas for a marijuana business in Eagle County,” Hunn said. “That’s especially true in El Jebel. The Crawford family owns most all of the eligible land. From what I’ve heard, the landlords currently aren’t interested in leasing space for marijuana businesses.”

El Jebel was created in the early 1960s after Floyd and June Crawford purchased the current town property and operated it as a cattle ranch. Floyd Crawford’s grandson, Robert Hubbell, is president and CEO of Crawford Properties LLC, the company that owns and manages most of the commercial and residential areas of El Jebel.

“We don’t feel comfortable with marijuana facilities in El Jebel at this time,” Hubbell said. “We’re going to take a wait-and-see attitude. We’ll see what happens in other areas and revisit our decision in the future.”

Hunn said Eagle County did a great job with its community outreach and the developing of the land-use regulations and licensing procedures surrounding potential marijuana businesses in Eagle County. What caught him off guard is the lack of applicants for any recreational pot licenses in the El Jebel area.

“What I know for sure is we have recreational licenses available, but good luck finding a space to work out of,” Hunn said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people interested in a recreational license but have yet to hear back from any of them. The issue is there’s very little commercial-general-zoned land in El Jebel. This may lead to taking another look at the commercial-general area and have a conversation with the landowners. It could also lead to revisiting our zoning areas and regulations. At this point, I’m not sure the current commercial-general area of El Jebel is a viable place for those marijuana licenses.”

When asked if he believes the county commissioners would consider relocating the two recreational licenses that are dedicated to the Roaring Fork Valley side of Eagle County, Hunn wasn’t sure if that was necessary.

“I think it would be prudent to see how the other Eagle County licenses work out,” he said. “There’s a lot at stake here, and we’re still learning about the marijuana business as we go along.”

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Jun 5, 2014 12:00AM Published Jun 7, 2014 09:17AM Copyright 2014 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.