Basalt council OKs medical pot rules

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

Basalt could have two medical marijuana dispensaries opening in the first quarter of 2014 after the Basalt Town Council took action Tuesday night to update rules and end a moratorium.

The council voted 6-0 in a first reading to approve new regulations for medical marijuana facilities drafted by the town staff. They also voted to establish where such facilities could operate in Basalt. A second reading of both ordinances will be held Jan. 14.

Once the rules are in place, the council plans to repeal its moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, members said at an earlier meeting. The current moratorium is in place until October.

If all goes as planned, operators will have to apply to the state for approval of a location and for a license, according to Town Manager Mike Scanlon. If they get state approval, they will apply to the town for approval of the location and a license.

“I would expect that within 90 to 120 days we would have two Medical Marijuana Centers in Basalt, could be sooner,” Scanlon said in an email.

The town’s regulations will allow only two dispensaries. An existing license apparently is active although the dispensary isn’t open, Scanlon said. The second license would be awarded, after the rules are approved, on a first-come, first-served basis, Scanlon said.

The town will modify existing rules to allow dispensaries to display one sign of 6 square feet. The old regulation didn’t allow any advertising.

The old rules also allowed medical marijuana dispensaries to operate only in medical facilities. The new rules expand locations to include some properties with the “industrial” zone in the Basalt business center along Willits Lane and in the Southside neighborhood.

Basalt is not approving grow or cultivation operations or manufacturing facilities. In addition, rules for recreational marijuana dispensaries will be handled separately over the next six months, according to Planning Director Susan Philp.

In other action Tuesday night, the Basalt Town Council:

• Awarded the sales of $5.01 million in general obligation bonds to Stifel Nicolaus & Co., of Memphis, Tenn. Basalt held its first-ever competitive sale and attracted 10 bidders, including national players such as Piper Jaffray & Co. as well as Denver-based powerhouse George K. Baum & Co. The town will receive its funds on Dec. 30. About $3 million will be applied to a project on the Roaring Fork River to ease the flooding threat, restore riverbanks, build a park and raise the level of developable land out of the floodplain. The other funds refinance prior bonds at a lower interest rate. Basalt got an “AA” rating from Standard & Poor’s Rating Services. Only two grades are higher. The rating service said Basalt has an “adequate economy, which benefits from high wealth and income indicators, despite concentrated employment opportunities.” The rating also credited the town government with “strong management and good financial-management policies.” In another note, Standard and Poor’s contended that one-quarter to one-third of the houses in the town are second homes.

• Approved increases to various fees and fines — from Planning Department fees to parking fines — for the first time in about 10 years. The Police Department fees and fines will have a 25 percent surcharge to raise funds for officer training. Police Chief Gregg Knott said he set fines by figuring the average for similar offenses in Aspen, Snowmass Village, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs and subtracting 25 percent for the Basalt base fine. That way, the 25 percent surcharge for officer training won’t add to the overall expense for the party being fined or paying a fee, he said.

Adopted a 2014 Final Work Plan, which sets priorities for the town government for the next year. The council also adopted a 10-year “expenditure framework” for Parks, Open Space and Trails funds.