Snowmass Village will consider a safe zone to delineate between children’s activities and where pot is sold, according to information the town council will examine today when it discusses new regulatory framework for retail marijuana sales.
Prohibiting marijuana stores on the main pedestrian level of the Snowmass Mall between Daly and Elbert lanes has also been added to the proposed guideline framework, based on elected officials’ input from an August work session. Restricting the size of pot shop signs to 4.5 square feet, and prohibiting marijuana “insignia” and logos from signs and store fronts, are among the recommendations.
The town may not limit the number of marijuana licenses outright, as other restrictions could prove to be self-regulating.
“No limit on the total number of licenses permitted in Snowmass Village is proposed. This is due to the experience of other municipalities that have restricted the number of licenses, and the competition that arises over the limited supply,” according to a staff memo. “Although there is not a numeric restriction on the number of stores, stores will be limited de-facto by the proximity restrictions outlined ... and the availability of real estate in the proposed marijuana zone district outlay.”
During the statewide vote in 2012, Snowmass Village voted 989-385 in favor of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational pot. But the village has not embrace pot sales because of its reputation as a family-friendly resort; a moratorium on dispensaries enacted in 2013, however, is due to expire on Oct. 31, opening the door to legal sales.
While the town’s marketing board and the majority of the town council have said in multiple meetings this year that marijuana sales should finally be allowed to take place, Mayor Markey Butler continued to argue the merits of keeping Snowmass Village pot-free. It wasn’t until recently that Butler gave up that cause, as she and Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk recognized they were in the minority among elected officials.
Snowmass Village voters will have a say on a proposed 5 percent sales tax on marijuana in Snowmass Village this November. The 5 percent tax is estimated in its first year to generate at least $400,000. Sales tax questions are subject to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) and must be voter-approved.
Separating sensitive areas
Snowmass Village would create a new zone district overlay that would encompass the commercial core as part of its proposed regulatory scheme. The rationale is that youth location restriction buffers would keep pot shops from locating close to what are seen as sensitive areas. Two licensed child-care facilities, the Aspen Skiing Co.-operated Treehouse and the Westin Kids Club, are in the proposed marijuana district overlay. Aspen School District bus stops near the marijuana district, as well as the Challenge Aspen operation, are other considerations. The siting of facilities that may host youth, in relation to the Snowmass Mall, are included in a map that elected officials will use as a guide. The map is still in its draft form.
“The map is intended to show what a 300-foot and 500-foot buffer from these areas would look like,” said Travis Elliott, assistant to the town manager, on Monday.
According to language included in an outline of the proposed zoning restrictions and regulations, “retail marijuana stores would be restricted to locations within this new zone district overlay, which will carry its own set of restrictions in the land use code.”
The final regulatory language will need to be adopted by ordinance.
Comparisons to other resort town communities are offered for council’s consideration. For example, Aspen, Carbondale, Crested Butte, Glenwood and Breckenridge prohibit dispensaries from being located within 500 feet of any school. In Basalt, Breckenridge, Carbondale and Crested Butte the 500-foot limit extends to day-care facilities as well.
For Snowmass Village dispensaries, it’s recommended that advertising be tamped down with no internet pop-up ads, nor website banners or email blasts being used to promote the local businesses. On the traditional media side, “no outdoor media, such as handbills, leaflets, fliers and billboards, will be allowed,” according to the staff memo.
There’s also the smell factor that will need to be considered. “Marijuana odors resulting from marijuana products must not permeate beyond the premises,” according to the memo.
Maximum operating hours would be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the Snowmass dispensaries.
Today’s meeting was rescheduled by one day because of Rosh Hashanah. The meeting begins at 3:30 p.m.