Pitkin County limits sites for medical marijuana businesses
ASPEN – Pitkin County won’t allow medical marijuana operations in areas where residents don’t want them, county commissioners agreed Wednesday.
Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a resolution establishing medical marijuana licensing procedures, with a public hearing and second vote scheduled for June 27. They also agreed, though, to abide by the recommendations that came out of neighborhood caucuses and community groups, which means no marijuana enterprises of any kind will be allowed in the portion of the Fryingpan Valley in unincorporated Pitkin County, no growing operations will be permitted in the Snowmass/Capitol Creek area, and no dispensaries will appear on Redstone Boulevard. Dispensaries will be allowed only in the B-2 zone district, which is the Aspen Business Center, but an existing business in Holland Hills will be allowed to continue.
Aside from the caucus-supported restrictions, grow operations would be permitted in areas where agricultural uses are allowed.
The limitations won’t affect any existing marijuana business of which the county is aware, according to Lance Clarke, planning director. Among dispensaries in unincorporated parts of the county, there is the one in Holland Hills and two in the Aspen Business Center. The Holland Hills site doesn’t conform with existing zoning, but a succession of businesses have been allowed there as nonconforming uses.
In addition, there were a half-dozen grow sites when businesses stepped forward in 2010 to submit license applications to the state.
Commissioner Jack Hatfield urged his colleagues to support the “status quo” that has evolved in the unincorporated areas of the county when it comes to medical marijuana.
“I haven’t heard of any problems, in municipalities or the unincorporated areas of our county,” he said. “Let’s create licenses, move forward and not make a controversy that doesn’t exist.”
The restrictions on where businesses may operate can be incorporated into the regulations and won’t require amendment to the land-use code, Clarke told commissioners.
Commissioner Rob Ittner, though, wondered if caucus input was sufficient to put such restrictions in place.
“Is this the proper public process in terms of restricting or allowing something to happen in geographic areas of our county?” he asked.
Commissioners have the final say, but the county relies heavily on caucus input when making land-use decisions, Commissioner George Newman pointed out.
Commissioners are reviewing proposed local licensing regulations after state officials indicated a local license is necessary in order for an operation to be licensed by the state. The county’s goal is formal adoption in June, before the state moratorium on new applications expires July 1.
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