For more than a month, the town of Frisco has been at the center of a controversy about a pending business application to convert the old A&W restaurant on Highway 9 into a medicinal marijuana shop.
On Tuesday, July 22, the Frisco Town Council was scheduled to bring an end to the debate by taking action on an ordinance that would have allowed 861 Summit Boulevard LLC, which purchased the A&W in November 2013 for $1.25 million, to open a medicinal marijuana establishment on Frisco’s main drag.
However, following a lengthy public debate, town officials decided to table the measure until town council’s Aug. 12 meeting.
History of the application
The controversy surrounding the A&W proposal dates to June when the town council passed an emergency ordinance extending the distance requirement between retail and medicinal marijuana businesses from 500 to 700 feet. The ordinance also increased setbacks from residences from 100 to 500 feet.
The move was initially praised by Frisco’s two marijuana business owners — Jerry Olson, of Medical Marijuana of the Rockies, and Dawn Mlatecek, of Herbal Bliss — for essentially derailing plans to convert the old A&W restaurant into a medicinal marijuana establishment.
However, earlier this month, the town council floated a second ordinance, which was written to exempt all pending marijuana business applicants from the new setback rules. Town officials said the new ordinance was drafted because they did not realize they had an application from 861 Summit Boulevard LLC.
The company had apparently navigated the state’s licensing process prior to the passage of the emergency ordinance, but its application had not been acted upon by the town.
The second ordinance was drafted to be fair to 861 Summit Boulevard LLC, said Frisco attorney Thad Renaud during town council’s July 8 meeting.
Prior to delaying the measure Tuesday, Councilwoman Kim Cancelosi, who voted in favor of the emergency ordinance in June, said she only supported the new measure when it was presented earlier this month on first reading because she thought she was obligated to.
“I was all for the emergency ordinance because I thought it was going to prevent the A&W from becoming a medicinal marijuana shop,” Cancelosi said. “I thought that if someone had submitted an application and paid for it that we were bound by it. That’s why I voted yes the last time. I didn’t think we had a choice.
“If that’s not the case, then I’m not going to vote for it (the new ordinance).”
Cancelosi’s comments contradict others made by Renaud and town manager Bill Efting, who have said throughout the process that neither ordinance was designed to specifically target 861 Summit Boulevard LLC’s application.
Opponents of the new ordinance disagree and on Tuesday Scott Wilson, co-owner of Cameez Frozen Yogurt in Frisco, speculated the new ordinance was introduced to avoid a potential legal battle with the new A&W owners. Peter Knobel, of Solaris Residences in Vail, is a partner in the 861 Summit Boulevard LLC group.
“I think we’re forgetting what Frisco is all about and it seems to me there may be a legal issue with a guy who has a lot of money that may be able to take on the town,” Wilson said during Tuesday’s public comment period. “I just want to go on record as saying I think this is a terrible idea and even though it may cost a lot of money, I encourage you to reconsider passing this ordinance.”
Jon Boord, a real estate attorney who worked with Knobel on the A&W purchase, said Wednesday he was not aware of any pending legal action against the town.