The Frisco Town Council on Tuesday floated a new ordinance that would repave the way for a medicinal marijuana establishment at the old A&W restaurant location on Highway 9.
Last month, the council passed an emergency ordinance to increase the distance between marijuana establishments from 500 to 700 feet, and to extend setbacks from residential dwellings from 100 to 500 feet. The new ordinance, passed unanimously this week on first reading, essentially annuls those regulations for any retail or medicinal business license applicants who submitted completed paperwork prior to last month’s adoption of greater setback restrictions.
Town officials said during Tuesday’s meeting they overlooked an application submitted about eight months ago by 861 Summit Boulevard LLC.
861 Summit bought the A&W in November 2013 for $1.25 million, according to Summit County Assessor’s Office data. Its application was paid in full and had already successfully navigated the state approval process before the emergency ordinance passed, but it had not yet been acted upon by Frisco officials.
On the surface, the actions of the Frisco council suggest last month’s ordinance was adopted with the specific intention of blocking the A&W project, and the new ordinance is designed to repeal those efforts. However, Bill Efting, Frisco town manager, said officials did not have a specific business or potential business site in mind when they drafted the ordinances.
“If we had known the application was there, we wouldn’t have put the emergency ordinance on the agenda (last month),” Efting said. “There was never any intent to get rid of the A&W location. This was my responsibility and I didn’t catch it.”
Although Efting said he was unaware of any pending applications, Frisco town clerk Deborah Wohlmuth said during the June 10 meeting she was familiar with 861 Summit’s application and that it had not yet been acted on at the time because representatives from the company were seeking local building permits. A day after the June 10 meeting, Efting said 861 Summit’s application was the only one pending that he was aware of and that town staffers would be reviewing the application during the following week.
Frisco town attorney Thad Renaud attempted Wednesday, July 9, to clarify Efting’s comments, saying neither he nor the town manager knew about the application until Wohlmuth spoke up during the June 10 meeting. When asked why no one suggested the emergency ordinance be delayed until the application could be reviewed, Renaud said that would have been an option, but it didn’t seem necessary at the time because the ordinance could be corrected later.
“We knew we had a pending application for the A&W site, but we didn’t realize at the time it hadn’t been acted on by the town,” Renaud said. “Had I known that before the previous meeting, we would have written the ordinance more like what was presented last night.”
Jerry Olson, owner of Medical Marijuana of the Rockies, and Dawn Mlatecek, owner of Herbal Bliss — formerly Bioenergetic Healing Center — both oppose the new ordinance. Mlatecek was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting, but Renaud read an email from her for the record, in which she supported the legality of the emergency ordinance and said 861 Summit’s application should be reviewed under the new regulations.
Rhett Jordan, of Denver, and Josh Ginsburg, of Boulder, are thought to be involved in the A&W deal and aiming to expand their Denver-based Native Roots Apothecary to the mountains. Peter Knobel, of Solaris Residences in Vail, appears to be the financial backer of the project.
Knobel declined to comment Wednesday about the new ordinance.
Unlike last month, the new ordinance was not introduced as an emergency. The public will have an opportunity to comment about it publicly during the Tuesday, July 22, meeting when it is considered on second reading.
Town officials said during Tuesday’s meeting they overlooked an application submitted about eight months ago by 861 Summit Boulevard LLC, which bought the old A&W store.