Silverthorne passes retail marijuana regulations

Joe Moylan

Silverthorne’s regulations for retail marijuana establishments are now part of the town’s code, but the ordinance that has been in the works for several months did not pass without lengthy public discussion.

On Wednesday the Silverthorne Town Council hosted a public hearing on Ordinance 2013-10, which regulates retail marijuana establishments in many of the same ways as it regulates medical marijuana dispensaries.

But several Silverthorne residents attended Wednesday’s meeting hoping to get certain sections of the ordinance amended before council gave its final stamp of approval.

Silverthorne resident Stan Katz, who also serves on the Silverthorne Planning Commission, raised issues with the new regulation’s spacing requirements. According to the ordinance, a retail marijuana shop may not be located within 500 feet of any licensed child care facility, educational institution or school, halfway house or correctional facility, residential dwellings or any park, building or recreation center open for use to the general public.

“According to this code you are limiting the town to just four retail shops.”
Stan Katz
Resident who serves on the Silverthorne Planning Commission, referring to a zoning map of Silverthorne

The ordinance further states that retail marijuana shops may not be housed in a residential district or within 1,000 feet of another retail marijuana establishment.

“According to this code you are limiting the town to just four retail shops,” Katz said referring to a zoning map of Silverthorne. “If that’s what you want to do, fine, but there’s also been a lot of talk about adding taxes and the potential revenue enhancement (of this product).”

Nick Brown, owner of High Country Healing, Silverthorne’s only medical marijuana dispensary, also addressed council about considering a couple of changes to the ordinance. Last week in an interview with the Summit Daily News, Brown said he intends to expand into the retail marijuana business.

Citing the comparisons between retail marijuana establishments and liquor stores being made in towns throughout the state, Brown asked council to consider extending its clause on approved hours of operation. As written, the ordinance permits a retail marijuana establishment to legally sell pot between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., as it does for medicinal marijuana.

“We’re being compared to liquor stores and liquor licensing and the state is proposing that stores could stay open until midnight,” Brown said. “I’m not pushing that, but a lot of (retail) stores and restaurants in my area are open until 9 or 10 at night and it would make me more competitive to stay open that late too, so people getting off work could visit my shop.”

Before taking a vote on the ordinance, Silverthorne Mayor Dave Koop proposed to amend the time restrictions to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but council members were split down the middle about the proposed change.

“It wasn’t that long ago when we had blue laws or people who wanted to drink while watching a football game had to plan ahead because you couldn’t buy beer (in Colorado) on Sundays,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Bruce Butler. “I’d prefer to just see how this works first, but I’m amenable to considering a package (of changes) down the road because I think we’re going to have to do it anyway.”

Although Butler was joined by council members Dave Anderson and Stuart Richardson in their preference to keep the ordinance as is, council members Derrick Fowler, David Praeus and Ann-Marie Sandquist agreed that extending a retail marijuana establishment’s hours of operation would allow potential business owners like Brown to be more successful.

“If we’re going to change it down the road anyway I don’t see any reason not to change it with an amendment right now,” Preaus said. “I don’t see why we should be more restrictive on retail marijuana businesses than we are on liquor stores.”

Sensing the debate could stall the ordinance entirely, Koop proposed voting on the ordinance as written, but to schedule a workshop before Jan. 1, 2014 — the date when Silverthorne can begin accepting retail marijuana business applications — to address changing its clause on hours of operation.

The ordinance passed as proposed unanimously, 6-0.

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