Medicinal marijuana may be shut out of El Jebel
November 20, 2009
EL JEBEL – Eagle County zoning regulations may keep a medical marijuana dispensary from cropping up in El Jebel.
The county has enacted temporary land-use regulations dictating where the dispensaries can set up shop in commercial and industrial zones, and the Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission voted Thursday in El Jebel to recommend county commissioners stiffen those rules.
Either way, it doesn’t appear the rules would accommodate a dispensary in the sliver of Eagle County that extends into the El Jebel area, said county planner Bob Narracci.
“There’ll be plenty in the valley. We don’t have to worry about it,” said commission member Temple Glassier, acknowledging the growing proliferation of dispensaries from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. The closest dispensary to El Jebel is at the WIN Institute, just up Highway 82 in west Basalt.
Eagle County is in the process of coming up with detailed land-use regulations for dispensaries in unincorporated portions of the county; the temporary regulations are currently set to expire in March. While there is no dispensary in the piece of the county that extends into the Roaring Fork Valley, there are already several in unincorporated areas on the Eagle side of the county, Narracci noted.
The planning commission serving the Eagle side met Wednesday; some members expressed interest in shutting the dispensaries out of the unincorporated areas altogether, but were advised that, legally, the operations have to be permitted somewhere, Narracci said.
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The rules don’t have to recognize the geographical split in the county and accommodate a dispensary in El Jebel, though, he said.
“There just has to be somewhere in unincorporated Eagle County where they can occur,” Narracci said.
Eagle County’s temporary rules prohibit dispensaries from locating within 200 feet of residences, churches and publicly owned community buildings, among other facilities, or within 500 feet of a school, playground, park or child-care facility.
The Roaring Fork commission recommended the county adopt a 500-foot measure for everything. The Eagle commission made the same recommendation, Narracci said. The Roaring Fork group also recommended the dispensaries not be allowed in industrial zones, only commercial ones.
It appears there is no commercially zoned land in El Jebel that would meet the criteria with the 500-foot zone, and probably not with the 200-foot-limit either, according to Narracci.
County commissioners are expected to take up the recommendations next week.
The county has also adopted temporary rules prohibiting third-party growers from cultivating marijuana to supply dispensaries. Only caregivers and patients are allowed to grow medical marijuana in the county, as allowed by the state.
“We’ve been getting calls from parties who want to operate large-scale, greenhouse growing operations,” Narracci said.
The Roaring Fork commission tabled discussion of the full-blown regulations the county has drafted, figuring the rules will continue to change as the state government tries to get a handle on the burgeoning industry.
“I’m going to have a hard time wrestling with this until the state says, ‘We’re going to regulate this properly,'” said commission member Matt Flink.
Citizen e-mails on the topic, Flink noted, are running 25-to-1 against allowing the dispensaries in unincorporated Eagle County.