Granby moves to block marijuana shop

Hank Shell
Granby hopes to stop a marijuana store from opening in an enclave by annexing the property. The business owner and property owner both plan to fight the move in court.

A last-ditch effort by the Granby Board of Trustees to stop a marijuana business from opening in an unincorporated enclave could lead to a legal showdown.

The board will consider an emergency ordinance to annex a property that lies within an enclave on U.S. Highway 40 near Middle Park Medical Center-Granby at its Dec. 9 meeting.

Though marijuana businesses are allowed in unincorporated Grand County, Granby is seeking to annex the property before MMK Limited LLC can obtain a county license for its marijuana retail shop.

Granby contends that the business would “immediately and adversely affect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the town,” according to the ordinance.

A complaint filed in Grand County District Court, dated Nov. 28, seeks to halt the annexation, stating that the move violates state statutes.

Both MMK Limited LLC and the property owner, LTTK LLC, are listed as plaintiffs in the complaint, with the Granby mayor, clerk and board of trustees listed as defendants.

Granby Town Manager Wally Baird told the Sky-Hi News on Friday, Dec. 5, that the complaint had been withdrawn, though both the Grand County Clerk of Court’s office and an attorney for one of the plaintiffs said that it had not.

Rather, a hearing on the matter scheduled for Dec. 5 at 8:30 a.m. was postponed pending the outcome of the board meeting.

“If in fact the town does vote to do something patently unconstitutional, then we will revisit the hearing and reschedule the hearing,” said Bob Hoban of Denver-based law firm Hoban and Feola LLC, which is representing MMK Limited LLC in the case.

“Furthermore, it would be a terrible waste of the city’s resources to do this and fight this in court, and they will lose,” Hoban added.

Granby narrowly voted against medical marijuana dispensaries in 2010, with roughly 53 percent of voters backing prohibition. In 2012, both districts encompassing Granby voted in favor of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado.

Baird said the town’s decision to ban recreational marijuana businesses in May of this year was based on an informal poll taken during public hearings on the subject, in which 98 people supported prohibiting marijuana businesses and two did not. Baird pointed out that the two against prohibiting marijuana businesses were not Granby residents.

“You’re telling me those people can’t find a better place to put a marijuana store than in an island within the town of Granby that doesn’t want it there to begin with?,” Baird said.

Baird contended that legislative action, including the town’s move to annex, couldn’t be enjoined, though Hoban disagreed.

“There are a number of cases where legislative action has been enjoined,” Hoban said.

The lot in question is located within an enclave, though it only shares one border with Granby. Its other contiguous properties are also unincorporated.

This could be problematic for Granby, which seeks only to annex the single property, and Hoban said that the case could very well hinge on the court’s interpretation of enclave.

Case echoes earlier annexation threat

This isn’t the first time that MMK Limited LLC and Granby have clashed over land use in an enclave.

The Grand County Planning Commission voted not to grant MMK a special use permit for another unincorporated property near the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and U.S. Highway 34 after Granby expressed its intent to annex that property.

The county planning department had recommended approval.

The complaint filed by MMK contends that Granby abandoned its plans to annex the property after MMK withdrew its request from the Grand County Board of Commissioners to grant the permit.

Baird said that the town had not abandoned those plans and would likely have a hearing on the annexation in January 2015.

“Both of these places that we’re looking at are enclaves,” Baird said. “So if the town has generally spoken and said, ‘we don’t want this in the town,’ the board feels like it’s their responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen in the town.”

Annexation move draws ire abroad

It seems that Granby’s moves to keep marijuana out of town haven’t gone unnoticed.

A Dec. 4 article in Westword magazine, titled “Marijuana-Hating Town’s Extreme Efforts to Block a Pot Shop,” is highly critical of Granby’s strategy, going so far as to name Granby a contender for the “doobie-ous” title of “the Colorado town that most hates pot.”

Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.