Pot passes: Snowmass council OKs marijuana ordinance, rules in 3-2 vote
Snowmass Village is one step closer to legalizing marijuana sales.
After a limbo period of more than five-and-a-half years, Town Council on Monday passed an ordinance allowing pot shops after its moratorium on marijuana sales expires April 30.
The elected officials approved the ordinance, which includes the town’s carefully crafted pot shop regulations, on second reading in a 3-2 vote.
“It is incumbent upon us to go through this with a fine-tooth comb,” Town Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk, one of the two dissenting votes, said of the ordinance.
Town Council reviewed the 12-page document line-by-line for the second consecutive marijuana-related meeting. A few members of the public, including local attorney Lauren Maytin, also offered input on the ordinance and its language.
Maytin is among a handful of people who regularly attend the town’s pot discussions. Other regulars include Renee Grossman, owner of High Q dispensary in Silt, and Andrew Wickes, who works as the operational manager at his family’s Sundance Liquor & Gifts shop at the Snowmass Center.
Per Colorado law, any applicant vying for a retail marijuana license with the town of Snowmass must already obtain a commercial lease within the village.
Town Council, which opted to also serve as the town’s marijuana licensing authority, indicated at previous meetings a preference toward local operators and ownership.
In Snowmass, pot shops will be legal in certain areas — additional zoning restrictions are in the place — on the second floor of the Snowmass Center and Snowmass Mall.
Part of those regulations are that pot shops cannot operate within 300 feet of another dispensary or 300 feet of a child care facility. A retail marijuana store also cannot exist within 200 feet of the Skittles route on Fanny Hill or 100 feet from the edges of Snowmass Ski Area.
The zoning restrictions are intended to organically cap the number of dispensaries that can operate in Snowmass, as the town attorney has advised against implementing a numerical limit.
Snowmass’ marijuana ordinance also poses restrictions on advertising and signage.
The town of Snowmass first posed its moratorium on marijuana establishments in September 2013, after Colorado voters approved recreational pot sales in November 2012.
Council extended the moratorium three times to buy more time to determine if pot shops belong in the family-friendly village — a point of contention within the community and town government.
Snowmass Village last prolonged the marijuana moratorium in September.
The town’s next step is to create a licensing approval process, town spokesman Travis Elliot said Tuesday.
Ideally, the town will complete this process before the moratorium expires April 30, Elliot said, noting that it is not required.
Ordinances require 15 days to go into effect, Elliot confirmed, meaning the final document and regulations can be viewed in about two weeks at http://www.tosv.com.
The total revenue that the town expects marijuana sales in Snowmass to generate from all taxes — including an added 5 percent sales tax that voters overwhelmingly approved in November — is between $194,967 and $584,900 annually.
The state levies a 15 percent excise tax and 10 percent sales on recreational marijuana, and some municipalities tack on an additional sales tax of up to 5 percent. The city of Aspen does not levy an added tax.
Altogether, the town projects that pot shops would sell between $1.9 million and $5.8 million in Snowmass Village.
From a state perspective, Snowmass Village is among a small handful of municipalities with a moratorium on marijuana.
In the November 2012 election, Snowmass Village voted 989-385 in favor of the state’s Amendment 64, according to election results from Pitkin County.